Opinion: Messing with the stats

Matt Vroom

Matt Vroom

By Steve Kline

All right kids, you’re going to read a “go vote” column almost a month before the elections, and you’re going to like it. Soon, you’re going to be bombarded with these things, so I thought I’d get the jump on the subject before you get sick of it.

Think of the headlines. “Senate spring break: Hott, Hott Trent Lott challenges Tom ‘Dashing’ Daschle in freestyle-filibuster showdown.”

“Ralph Nader Friendster list at all time low.”

Register for the ballot, kiddies; the youth vote will at least make the future more entertaining. When politicians pander to younger generations, they do it in ways The Onion couldn’t dream of. Youth voters, roughly aged 18 to 24, have been falling in numbers since the ’70s. It shows. Instead of the powerful voting block we could be, we’re an afterthought for political hopefuls. After wooing rural populations, the elderly, unions, corporations, baby boomers and Citizens for Eradicating Those Crafty Tree Squirrels Who Keep Stealing Pie Off’a Mah Danged Windowsill, political candidates might take a moment to give an acknowledging nod to the youth.

After November, we could change this (God, I love a public soapbox to rant on every week).

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    Most of us used to see politics just as another superfluous game. People go to Washington, argue a bunch, shift numbers around, have sex and then get into trouble and whoop-dee-freakin’-doo – nothing changes. Life just chugged on the same for us, even if the Dow dropped, increased, then pulled off a flawless 360-degree flip (over five cars!) and landed in a handstand.

    Well, nowadays we’re seeing the consequences of politics. Unlike 2000, politics have become impossible to ignore. Odds are growing that the guy delivering your pizza has a college degree. Loved ones who joined the Army Reserve to pay for college are rapidly disappearing.

    Bush junior’s term marked the end to our teenage feeling of societal invincibility (possibly the most pretentious sentence I’ve ever written. Thank you, thank you). The country’s environment is in flux, and we’ve got to make sure we inherit a keen place and not have to work as a cleanup crew.

    Protests, our parents’ major agent of change, just don’t work as well as before. The public became desensitized. Protests loudly tell the public a group’s opinion, as do counterprotests for the initial protest and the protests protesting protesters who keep mucking up the lawns. Picket all you want – no one cares.

    You can turn away from a picket sign, but you can’t turn away from a vote (insert snide and partisan comment about Florida here). The best way to change a system – and to make sure no one messes with it – is to get in it.

    And honestly, if everyone our age decided to go to the polls this year, I don’t see a massive, liberal tidal wave. There might be a leftward prod but no shove. There are many soulless Republican youth to counteract the tax-hungry, terrorist-coddling Democratic youth.

    I think, if anything, it might give us some more policies that’ll help in the long term instead of the short term. Walk around campus during finals and you’ll see what I mean. Students who haven’t slept for 36 hours and who only can afford Ramen aren’t abusing themselves for fun. They work until delirious, knowing they’ll come out with a degree. Long-term goals over short. Don’t let the elderly show us up at the booths. They’re gonna be dead before anything takes effect anyway.

    If you don’t care about politics, fine. Take the time to vote anyway. Trust me, if the politicians start pandering to us, the world will be a much more entertaining place. I want the nation to panic when some senator calls his new bill “the bomb.” I want to see attempts by the president to be hip. If anything, it’d be nice to see the look on Bill O’Reilly’s face when the “stoned slackers” (his pet name for young folks) control the system.

    Don’t bitch that politicians don’t speak to you. Force them to.

    Steve Kline is a senior in LAS. His column runs Mondays. He can be reached at [email protected].