BY: GOWRI ABHINANDA
Politics is overrun with a demographic of elderly white men, with 65 percent of them holding national power and disregarding groups like the youth, women and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities according to The Guardian. However, the narrative of old white men doesn’t have to remain – students have the power to incite change by voting to change the political dialogues in the youth’s favor.
Historically, there has been an exclusionary dialogue taking place between the government and young people. The 2016 election exemplified this dialogue when, according to National Public Radio (NPR), the Democratic National Convention (DNC) chose Hillary Clinton as their candidate for president; and young people were not pleased with this decision as they wanted a more progressive leader like Bernie Sanders according to NY magazine. It’s time to change that narrative by having the youth show up to vote in a landslide – and that’s exactly what happened this year.
According to Vox Media, this year, 53 percent of eligible young voters cast their ballot for this election cycle, making it a record year for youth turnout. The Guardian adds that many young voters were in favor of President-elect Joe Biden over Incumbent Donald Trump, and they expressed this belief by providing President-elect Biden an edge in an extremely close election. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and this generation still needs to put in more work to show up to make electoral changes because as a Pew Research report noted, many young people believe that their vote doesn’t count. Despite this rhetoric, voting is still the people’s strength to ensure they are heard.
Voting is also relevant not only for national elections but also for local and state elections. Mayoral candidates, commissioners, state representatives, congressional candidates and even the judges in a district play a deciding role in the types of legislation that will be passed and how certain communities can be affected. If there is a local candidate that can create positive change that young people wish to see that will affect their day-to-day processes, young people must show up at the polls to have their concerns for the mayoral or commissioner candidate heard. For state representatives and congressional candidates, if there is a progressive candidate or one who is a more conservative one, young people who may prefer one candidate over the other must appear in midterm elections as well to ensure they have a seat at the table in these decisions. Voting has the power to decide the outcome of lives on the national and local scale, and if young demographics want to be advocated for, they must show up at the polls or they will continue to be silenced.
There are so many elections on the state, local and national levels, and The Harvard Gazette says, perhaps if more young voters vote in elections to advocate for the issues that are important to them, a new voting demographic will emerge forcing politicians to pander to issues of the youth’s concern, just as they do with older demographics. Politicians would have to work harder to enact policies that pander to young voters if they want to win, given that there would be a new voter demographic that could decide the election. Thus, putting the power of the vote directly in the youth’s hands.