What youth journalists heard from their peers about this election
From Y-Press and What Kids Can Do (see accompanying article in YMR’s Election Issue Vol 2: Issue 5 “Youth on the Trail):
What youth journalists heard from their peers about this election.
Youth people are finding ways to take action. Young people dissatisfied with government, particularly the policies of the current administration, are motivated to work for change. The grassroots nature of the campaign has caused young people to feel that it is possible for them to enact political reform. With 24/7 news reports and Internet and candidate accessibility, youth have a flood of information about political issues.
Molly Kawahata, 17, Palo Alto, Calif.: “This is such a historic election on so many different levels. The participation we’re getting with young people, the amount of new voters who have come into play, I mean, it’s all so big. For a very long time, politicians and campaigns just kind of disregarded that vote ‘cause it wasn’t something they could count on. I think what changed was that students acknowledged that problem and said, ‘We need students leading other students, and we need this to be truly student-run and that’s how we’ll make it successful.’”
Awareness breeds activism and Millennials are civic-minded.
Young people who were born between 1982 and 2003 have proven themselves to be more community-minded than their predecessors. After learning about opportunities for activism, many youth feel compelled to pay closer attention, or even contribute in a small way to the election. But awareness and activism among young people does not stop there; many youth are getting involved in major causes or campaign projects.
Ava Lowery, 17, Alexander City, Ala.: “Young people have started to realize that there are issues out there that are affecting us directly. For example, a lot young people are being sent to Iraq, a lot of young people can’t afford a college education, a lot of young people are seeing their families struggle without health insurance. So I think young people are starting to get more involved and become less of the apathetic generation that we’ve been painted to be.”
Taylor Bundy, 17, Lancaster, Pa.: “Politics aren’t just for adults anymore. Concerns have risen that directly affect teens: The war, the environment, the economy and global tensions are all significant issues in which teens, especially working teens who pay taxes,
want to have a voice. Not getting involved sooner was my biggest mistake.”
Technology brought youth into the political arena.
The candidates—most notably Sen. Obama – engaged youth via the Internet, which is increasingly used by young people on blogs and social networking sites like Facebook. Young people are also creating their own Web sites to bring young people into politics.
Alex Harris, 19, Gresham, Ore.: We just decided that there were lots of people who were excited about Mike Huckabee, and they didn’t have anywhere to come together and talk about things and make plans and strategize and coordinate. So we decided we needed to create a Web site where they could do that. That was what hucksarmy.com was. It started as just a discussion forum for people to come and discuss…and we also had a way for them to sign up to fundraise and to raise support and tell people about Governor Huckabee as well.
Many youth are engaged in this election because of the candidates.
Caitie Boland, 19, Great Falls, Mont.: “I think the big difference between last election and this year is Barack Obama. He’s like our JFK, or our Robert Kennedy, there’s something inspiring about him that hasn’t grabbed our generation before.”