With political participation approaching an all-time low, even more prominently so in the youngest demographic of voters, attempting to attribute validity and reason to such an action remains met with harsh regard and disapproval. To promptly and briefly outline the societal-state of this issue, the civic duty and value of voting inundated in society by Cold War-era patriotism and national unity is challenged by the greater diffusion of knowledge regarding political dysfunction and corruption afforded by new-age forms of news media (e.g. Facebook, Reddit, Twitter) derived from the Internet.
Convoluted vocabulary aside, this article seeks to explain why a growing number of us, specifically referring to newly legal voters, simply don’t give a shit.
Now, I led into this writing with a ‘somewhat-lengthy’ prelude with a ‘somewhat-exaggerated’ pallet of words to verify that I, as a worthless, lazy, unproductive member of Generation Z, am not a total imbecile; or I just use an online-thesaurus too much. I address this because of the common ‘laziness’ characteristic attributed to those living in Generation Z, as well as Generation Y. And, more central to my argument, used as a means to dismiss any reasoning for the breach of societal-norms brought about by said generation demographics.
In relation civic duty, the willing refusal to vote scores highly among the most significant violations of what is expected of individuals in American society. But, is this scorn and disapproval by society warranted?
Before delving into a flurry of statistically-supported evidence which will undoubtedly still be denied by some, contorted by others and ignored by more, a preliminary discussion of the electoral system we, as citizens of legal-voting-age, are obliged to participate in, is necessary.
After being raised in a society which the loosely-defined ideals of democracy and justness were affirmed to us through the simple, mindless chant of a pre-rehearsed verbatim at an innate flag located somewhere within our school classrooms, it would not be unreasonable to expect such a Utopia to exist. Over time and education, however, the falsity of this supposed-reality would become increasingly apparent, most relevantly as we learned that our vote, does not matter. Through gerrymandering,
In the case of the latter, take the lack of voter participation not simply as young voters being 'lazy' and 'impertinent towards civic duty', but instead a political statement in its own right. With nearly all national elected-politicians, of both congressional and presidential notation, since the turn of the 20th Century affiliating by the two-party system, which 43 percent of Americans no longer identify with (the majority of these Americans being members of Generation Y), it is foremost apparent that party-absent, or independent, voters are discouraged simply by the fact that they, despite being a large party-demographic, are not whatsoever represented.
This disinterest in the current two-party state of American politics was further echoed during the most recent presidential primaries, in which Bernie Sanders, who had previously politically-identified as a party-independent senator, was significantly favored by millennial voters among all primary candidates. Despite the Democratic Primary resulting in defeat for Sanders, 40 percent of eligible-American voters below age 30 continue to express intention to vote Third Party, which is yet another testament to the increasing disinterest among millennial voters to the current state of party-politics.
As suggested earlier, what it means to young voters to uphold 'civic duty' may be undergoing a redefinition. Currently, American is experiencing a degree of quantity and diversity of social activism, ranging from Anti-Globalization Movements, such as Occupy Wall Street to the Black Lives Matter Movement, as well as an endless list of others; a notable amount of which are comprised of youth-activists.
Well, this could simply be corrected if these damn kids would just do their duty as Americans and vote, correct? Unfortunately, why this is not true serves yet again as another catalyst for absence of political participation among young voters. As previously mentioned, potential-Democratic Nominee Bernie Sanders saw significant support from the youngest voter demographic, to such an extent that "revolution" became a linguistic-symbol for his campaign. With such an alarming support and potential for the least-active demographic of voters to participate, however, came an uprising of systematic-attempts to prevent such voters from materializing. Even early in the primaries, subtle, arguable, instances of voter suppression were observed against the Sanders campaign by the Democratic National Committee, this came to a fruition in late-July with the leakage of DNC top-official emails attempting to ensure a Clinton-victory in the primaries; which was quickly overshadowed by a blame-game on the whistle-blower. Turning what should be an example of functioning democracy, into yet another reason for voters to harbor distrust and disinterest in the political system.
Although a clear and universally-accepted justification for the lack of participation among young-voters may never be agreed upon, it is undeniable that growing skepticism regarding the efficacy of ideal-American democracy has played a significant role. With the ever-growing distrust in news media and, subsequent, substitution with other sources, such as social media websites, in mind, it is further reasonable to suggest that, with a continued stream of similar democratically-infringing events, this skepticism and disenfranchisement will only continue to grow among American voters. What this distrust will bring, only the future, and history, can tell.