More Young Voters Are Exactly What Our Elections Need

More Young Voters Are Exactly What Our Elections Need

A bit about why and how young voters can impact political races, and why we should all be engaged as part of our collective civic virtue.

On March 20th, the date of the Illinois primary, where we selected the candidates of our respective parties, and it went just about as expected; JB Pritzker clinched the Democratic Party nomination, as did Bruce Rauner on the Republican side. These candidates are ones many people my age would consider being "establishment," embodying elitism and wealth, rather than policies that would resonate with them. The issue is this; if younger voters are going to complain ad infinitum about these candidates, why do they not vote?

That is the premise of this; GET OUT AND VOTE, regardless of who it is.

Here in Illinois, the youth turnout was poor; Cook County officials were disappointed with the turnout of younger voters, with some estimates claiming numbers as low as 3%; that is an awful number for any demographic, and it discourages younger voters from turning out in the larger, more important general elections, as the candidate chosen does not epitomize anything they'd like to be associated with, or they are skeptical of that particular candidate (JB Pritzker, for example).

This, in turn, can lead to politicians being elected that they do not like, or politicians that aren't particularly good for a community (this isn't a partisan thing, so no, I'm not saying Democrat or Republican. Keep those comments to yourself). This is also due to things like the two-party system, where neither party really embodies their views, or a lack of any real contact between candidates and younger voters, potentially removing them from consideration as voters.

Voting is such an important right to have, and we should cherish it; it gives us our ability to voice our opinions at the polls. It provides us with an opportunity to dictate which direction our country goes, which policies we want to see implemented, etcetera, etcetera. Alas, this is often "negated," in many minds, by the idea that one vote won't change anything. It can, and does with competitive elections. Even if it didn't, there is a satisfaction to be drawn from voting as well, regardless of party or candidate.

We have seen the youth vote mobilized before; from 2000-2008, voter turnout for 18-24-year-olds increased almost exponentially. Thirty-six percent of eligible young people voted in 2000, and 47% did in 2004. For the 2008 election, turnout spiked, even tripling or quadrupling. But this was a decade ago, and it can't be used now; it just proves that younger voters can be persuaded to vote. Young people should remain politically engaged, and be willing to take the product of their engagements to the polls since these elections can dictate their adult lives.

So, what should we do? Post about primaries. Give dates, candidates, platforms, and positions. Allow these voters to become informed enough to make a decision, and to take it to the polls. Automatic registration for legal US citizens upon becoming 18 would not hurt, either.

When I went to my polling place, it looked barren and empty. It was sad. But also gave me hope, since I know we as a generation can change that, and have people engaged in the civic/political process. It takes time, and it takes effort, but it would surely be worth it to have a generation engaged enough in politics to thoroughly change the American body politic. I know it will happen someday; I can count on it.


Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?


Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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