wayfarers all

children's literature, childhood and culture (and anything else that strikes my fancy).

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Location: pittsburgh, U.S. Outlying Islands

carbon-based life form: thinking, reading and gardening. New College alum; current grad student writing a dissertation. I specialize in children's literature, media, and culture, and queer/gender studies, with a strong interest in 19th century British literature and culture. I like history, a lot.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

the youth vote

(or lack thereof). Everyone, evidently, is disappointed by the low - or at least not-increased - turnout of young voters (ages 18-25). 17% in 2000; 17% in 2004.
I'm disappointed too. but i'm also pretty irked at the way both candidates and parties largely ignored real issues affecting young voters - plenty of words, words, words, about the Future of America! and Young People Need to Vote! but you know, I want to know about plans to help provide health insurance to the 18-24 set, the largest group of uninsured americans. I want to hear the candidates' ideas about creating federal scholarships or grants - NOT just loans - so teenagers can go to college or other training schools if they want to. I want to hear about the environment - people my age have been raised up thinking Reduce, Reuse Recycle - why not talk about initiatives for increased recycling - bins on every corner in America! Or the bigger issues, like protecting wildlife at home and worldwide; reducing emissions and maybe even signing on to the Kyoto Treaty. Or talking more about expanding options for alternative fuels - hybrid vehicles are just the beginning, and they're HERE.
How about addressing minor injustices, like higher car insurance rates for young drivers, or the fact that rental car companies charge a very large fee for renting to under-25s. How about pitching a plan to allow under-18 year old workers to not pay taxes on their earnings (they can't vote, after all)? Or to put those taxes into some kind of fund for helping with college education, or purchasing a home? That kids who can't vote STILL have to pay taxes is, in my mind, hugely unjust. Think about it - they pay into medicare and social security - those get taken regardless of income tax refunds - but don't get to vote for those who administer those programs.

Hint to the Democrats: spend the next three years seriously considering youth issues. do research. do studies. get out in the field and find out what matters to people in high school and college. don't refer to them as kids, either, or patronize them with semi-celebrities and the children of candidates. don't act like the Youth only appear every four years to disappoint you in the voting booth. For every concession you even consider for seniors, think of one for young people. find ways to engage with under 25s that aren't patronizing. There's a lot these kids have never had to think about before they turn 18, 20, 22 - help them, give them time, understand that the important issues to them may not appeal to old people or middle-class families, but are still important issues worth thinking about.

Neither Bush nor Kerry spoke to the 18-25 year olds. Any wonder they didn't come out to vote?


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