Staff Editorial: Hey you. Yeah you. You’re the majority
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During a recent visit to Washington D.C. for the Associated Collegiate Press Conference (ACP), the Eagle’s Eye staff heard Donna Brazile, Interim Chair of the Democratic Committee, speak to an audience of college journalists. Brazile, who played a major role in Al Gore’s election campaign in 2000, was recently accused of leaking the final presidential debate questions to Hillary Clinton. Regardless of the political storm she faced, Brazile maintained her bold charisma among 500 eager journalists. As our ears were tuned to filter through the political rhetoric, she explained, “You’re the generation we’ve been waiting to meet.”
Yeah yeah, we thought. We’ve heard this before. Haven’t politicians been saying this tagline for generations now? We get it; our vote matters if we care about the integrity of our country. But Brazile repeated, “No, really. You’re the generation we’ve been fighting for all this time.”
As our ears absorbed her words, our political rhetoric filters turned off, and we let our guard down. There was something authentic in what she was explaining to a group of young journalists. She made it clear that today we stand on 240 years of democratic history fighting for each other’s fundamental rights. As we walked the same steps at Lincoln Memorial– the historic rally point for all Civil Right movements– Brazile’s words resonated. We are indeed standing on a platform our democratic country has been fighting for all along. We the people, for the people, by the people, right? And although we are still struggling with the inherent problems of democratic governance, perhaps the platform our generation stands on is something to be celebrated and embraced.
And yet, we don’t get it. According to the U.S. census data from the Pew Research Center, millennials (ages 18-35) make up 31 percent of the electorate vote. Our grandparents, the Silent/Greatest Generation (ages 71 plus) make up 12 percent, while our parents, Generation X (ages 36-51), make up 25 percent. Therefore, Millennials, you, yes you, your vote makes up the largest pool of voters in this election. But here is what’s frightening: Only 46 percent of our Snapchat-and-selfie generation will cast a vote in this election season. From Donald Trump’s wrath to the Democratic Party’s stimulus, millennials have lost hope in Washington. And yet as the largest demo-graphic group voting, how can we feel inspired to participate in this polarized and elitist election? Our country’s new historic, political low point is leaving its most powerful voters unwilling to visit the polls, to cast votes, to care.
As extreme environmentalist Edward Abbey once said, “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” Did you hear that? Read it once more. Does it resonate? Our favorite Pinterest cliché from Gandhi also hits it: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” There is imminent danger in not taking a stance on even the small issues that irritate us.
As the largest voting pool, we owe a debt to our country’s 240-year-old democracy. As the generation that Brazile’s “been waiting to meet” and that our democracy has been fighting for, it is our civic responsibility to know our stance on the ballot and to cast our vote.