Voter apathy, a critical disease that paralyzes the electorate, in particular young people. According to the 2010 US Census, approximately 49 percent of people ages 18-24 voted in the 2008 election. In addition, 57 percent of people voted ages 25-34 voted in 2008 as well. These numbers are better than years past but a 2010 study released by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement showed that only 20.9 percent of eligible voters ages 18-29 actually voted in 2010. That was only two years ago, this poses a question. Will the driving force (young people) behind the Democratic Party’s presidential victory, disappoint them in 2012?
The answer is unclear. There are many groups of people that can help re-elect President Obama. The Democratic Party like any political party can be broken down into categories of voters. Even with the diverse make up of the American people, voters indirectly categorize themselves; things like race, class, gender, geography, generation among other things influence how people vote. Referred to as fault lines by the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, voters identify with the differences that separate them into special communities.
Before we analyze the core groups of the Democratic Party, one must understand the Democratic platform. The Democratic Party strives to fix America’s economy with a long-term solution, while tackling other issues like job creation, health care, clean energy and education. These are all good things, but Democrats believe there is a method that can achieve these goals while giving everyone an equal opportunity in life. Doesn’t that sound familiar?
The Democrats core-voting group range from working class families to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. Working and middle class voters embrace tax cuts on the poor and increases on the wealthy. You know the ones that can really afford it, so they tend to vote for the Democratic Party. After the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, African-Americans generally cast a Democratic ballot. Historically minorities tend to support the Democratic Party. An obvious group of Democratic voters are liberals; Democrats maintain a liberal platform attracting more liberal voters. The LGBTQ community usually votes Democratic, but since President Obama publicly affirmed his support for gay marriage he may win over some conservative voting LGBTQ members. Women are another group that vote Democratically in large numbers too.
The 2008 election motivated young people to go to the polls, and they help contribute to Obama’s large margin. College students appreciate the Democrats support of making education more accessible via federal loans and Pell grants. Since there are young people in all the core-voting groups of the Democratic Party, so there is a chance Obama can pull out another win.
In order to successfully garner the presidency, the disease of voter apathy must be cured. Generally presidential elections have a higher turnout than midterm elections but it has been four years since young people 18-29 have voted. They have gotten lazy, and the symptoms of voter apathy have returned. Young people fit into all the communities addressed, and they have more than enough reason to vote. Why leave your future in someone else’s hands? Voting is actively exercising your right as an American citizen. It may sound cliché but there is power in the ballot. The Women’s Suffrage Movement of the 1920’s and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s would have never occurred if voting were not important. Since every American is not capable of going to Washington D.C. and carrying out their own political affairs, it’s our job to help elect the person who does all that for us. Despite the criticism, politicians are important in this society. They make the major decisions: should we go to war, if taxes are raised, if same-sex marriage should be legal, or if women should get paid the same as men. Don’t let voter apathy conquer you.
Sources: democrats.org; http://www.mije.org/; http://www.census.gov; http://www.civicyouth.org/youth-voters-in-the-2010-election