What better time to enter the wonderful world of politics then voting for the first time in the 2016 Presidential election. The revolutionary campaigns run by a talking cheeto and a pantsuit wearing a helmet took social media by storm. Leading up to the election, everyone and their brother on Facebook claimed to be a political expert. After every puppy video came 10 posts discussing the state of Trump’s hair or Hillary’s wrinkles. With the insane amount of attention this election drew, you would think that the voting booths would be overflowing. False.
Compared to recent years, voter turnout is declining. As I spent what felt like decades waiting in line to vote for the very first time, I looked around for my fellow millennials. While there was a plethora of bald men, pregnant ladies, and wheel chair ridden elderly folks, American youths were obviously lacking. Millennials are the largest voting block in America, yet they had the lowest voter turnout. Why is that?
Civic disengagement. When people forget how to communicate because they’ve spent the past 3 weeks binge watching Netflix. Because why would you leave the comfort of your bed to talk to real human beings? This phenomena is captured in “Bowling Alone,” a book by Harvard Political Scientist, Robert Putnam. In his book, Putnam discusses the collapse of the American community. American youths seems to think that by participating in online chit chat about controversial policy issues, they have done their part in contributing to the political sphere. But this is just not the case. What good does a post ranting about how inhumane Trump’s immigration policies are, if the one who posts it doesn’t go out and vote? Congratulations! Now your second cousin’s mother’s aunt knows your political views.
Not to bash too much on millennials, I am one myself. We are a group of extremely passionate people who don’t know how or where to channel that passion. We want to make a difference, make our voices heard, yet we are going about it all the wrong way. The first step is electing someone who can voice our opinions for us. And that starts with going to the polls.
After leaving the voting booth and receiving the infamous “ I voted” sticker, I felt like I had genuinely contributed to society and left an impression, even if my vote was just a needle in the haystack. Young people want instant results, therefore one vote can seem minuscule in the grand scheme of things. But the power of the individual is so important in a democratic society that it is essential for younger generations to better educate themselves in the voting field and wear their “I voted” sticker with pride, knowing that change will come all because of them.