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Posted at 02:39 PM ET, 11/07/2011

Time for young people to vote

Attention young people. The good news is you can finally get some political power this year. The bad news is you're going to have to do something really, really boring on Tuesday. You're going to have to pretend to care about who is on your Soil and Water Conservation Board. You are going to have to vote in an off-off-year election.

Follow me here: If you feel like your government has been ignoring you, you're right. You do something dramatic like Occupy Wall Street, which poll after poll has shown Americans basically agree with, and you get more attention from the police than from politicians.  The Tea Party has an entire caucus in Congress, while you have an extremely convincing tumblr. Ever wonder why? 

It's because the Tea Party hardcore voted.  They voted in primaries. They targeted comfortable, well-liked politicians and cost them their jobs. They showed up and got their stickers.  And they'll do it again. They are feared. And if you want a government that fears YOU, you're going to have to go to the local middle school library and get your name crossed off the list. And you're going to have to do it now, so your numbers register for next year's campaign, when it matters. 

So, yeah, you don't really care about this election.  That's okay! Write in "Justin Bieber's possible baby;” no one will know.   It's your simple presence in that booth that counts. You will still be doing your demographic a solid. This election will see typically low turnout, meaning your presence will be magnified, and pollsters will notice a sudden uptick of youth.

The powers that be don't want you thinking this way. They've set up a lot of new voting hassles for next year.  In Tennessee, for example, you will need a state-issued voter ID to combat voter fraud, except student IDs from state colleges don't count. Why don't they count? The election officials probably have a really, really good reason that they'll tell you about after their buddies get re-elected.  There will also be fewer places to vote, and less time to vote. A suspicious person might assume these laws are intended to disenfranchise the young, a group often thought to be politically lazy. People who are averse to hassle. The sort of people retailers count on not to cash in on rebates. You're not one of them! You've been sleeping in a tent for 48 days, getting arrested and tear gassed. You love hassle.  Hassle means being heard.

"Voting is a hard-fought privilege," a state senator from Florida said recently, in defense of the proposed new voting laws. "This is something people died for. Why should we make it easier?"  Well, because none of those people died hoping fewer people would vote.  But anyway, the point is that there's only one really good way to stick it to that guy, and your mom, and The Man, and Wall Street, and the 1%, and all the people who hope you'll decide democracy is not worth the hassle, because it doesn't really matter anyway. Not this year.

No, it probably doesn't, not in terms of the makeup of your zoning board of appeals.   But next year, suddenly, Congress might feel as scared to mess with Pell Grants as they are about Social Security.  They'll spend as much time on, say, clean energy policy as they did this year on the debt ceiling.

Men in suits have been pandering to our demographic for years, only they've been doing it by making sexy action reboots of David the Gnome. Let's have a sexy action reboot of representative democracy this time.

By Rachel Manteuffel  |  02:39 PM ET, 11/07/2011

 
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