In a rough economy, there’s still one good on the market that is in abundant supply and in high demand: votes. Presidential candidates are making offers no one seems to be able to refuse. Inexpensive health care, lower gas prices, and tax cuts are just a few of the commodities presented to win the votes of Americans. However, according to Robert J. Samuelson of Newsweek, young people “are being played for chumps” this election season.
Young people (ages 18-30) remember Schoolhouse Rocks’ How to Become a Law. It was a song that explained to children the life of a bill wending its way through the legislative process. However, Schoolhouse Rocks skipped the part about how it is actually nonprofits that operate under tax-exemptions and that maintain a stranglehold of influence in Washington. Currently, the presidential candidates are being wooed by the AARP to keep a broken Social Security system broken. AARP is focused on the short-term interests of its membership base. The group doesn’t care that the final tab for Social Security will be paid by today’s young people who will have nothing left for their retirement some 50 years down the line.
Who represents the interests of the next generation? No political parties or groups can afford to overlook young people, whose political sway grows. According to a study done by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, presidential candidates are devoting more time and money to winning over young voters. The same study shows that young people between the ages of 18 and 30 are becoming increasingly politically active. However, Samuelson argues that politicians still treat young people like chess pieces on a board rather than like actual flesh-and-blood constituents who deserve the same consideration as any other demographic group.
Is Samuelson making a good point? Are young people letting the candidates off the hook by allowing themselves to be distracted by funny Youtube clips and cameos on “Saturday Night Live” instead of asking harder questions on the issues that affect them the most?