the kids are all wrong, maybe

A few days ago, I sent out an email to a few friends, telling them that, after giving the matter a great deal of thought, I’d come to a decision as to which demographic group was most to blame for Bush’s narrow victory. Then, without much of an explanation, I placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of America’s youth… Most people (correctly) disregarded my note. One, however, did not. My friend Jim wrote back the following:

Voters 18-29 were the only age group that voted for Kerry; all age groups 30 and older favored Bush. And numbers of young voters were way up:

“According to professor William Galston at the University of Maryland, at least 20.9 million Americans under 30 voted on Tuesday. That is an increase of 4.6 million voters from 2000. Four years ago, just 42.3 percent of young people voted. This year more than 51.6 percent did.”

So if we’re going to blame anyone, it should be older folks, who should have had the judgment and experience not to fall for Rove’s campaign of fear and hatred.

While the logical part of my mind concedes that Jim probably has a valid point, I still feel let down by America’s youth. Regardless of whether or not they came out and voted in record numbers, it still pisses me off that only 51% of 18-29 year olds went to the effort (especially with things like abortion, war, and the environment on the line). And, I’m apparently not the only one… I don’t know that it makes my case any more credible, but I just read that Hunter S. Thompson also holds them responsible. Here’s a clip from an article in an Aspen paper:

He deemed the election “another failure of the youth vote.”

“Yeah, we rocked the vote all right. Those little bastards betrayed us again.”

What I keep wondering is, where’s the idealism of the young? Where’s their passion?

Well, yesterday, I saw the first sign of it in an article at the Fox News site. Here’s a clip:

About 85 students remained holed up inside the library at Boulder High School early Friday, saying they’re concerned about the direction the country is headed and refusing to leave until they’ve met with leaders from the Republican Party.

My hope is that this is the first of many such protests. While I wish this would have happened before the election, I’m happy to see that it’s happening at all. Perhaps I was wrong to give up on America’s youth… I hope so.

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  1. Jim
    Posted November 7, 2004 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    What bothers and befuddles me is that Kerry did worse among 30-44 year olds (46-53) than among 45-59 year olds (48-51) (from exit polls, NYT). What’s that? As much as I’d like to blame the boomers for everything wrong about this country , they voted better than 30-44s did! We went for Bush almost as much as the old did (46-54).

  2. dan from austin
    Posted November 7, 2004 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    In response to Jim’s comment… I remember an awful lot of stupid fucks that I went to High school with. They probably vote, too.

    While I was (wrongly) confident that Kerry was going to win the election, I had a slight nagging feeling that the blogosphere’s reliance on the energized youth vote was really a canard or at best a false hope. That feeling came from remembering how the blogosphere had talked about how Dean was going to rule in Iowa because of all the new voters and youth voters and so on and instead Kerry beat his ass there. My one concern was the one that came true which is young voters and first time voters are not the group to pin yor hopes to unless we develop a way to deliver them to the polling places more effectively.

    Evil was clearly better at getting out the vote this time.

  3. mark
    Posted November 7, 2004 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    The general consensus I’ve seen develop over the past few days is that the Dems need to start grooming popular southern Governors for the job. I believe there’s an effort afoot to draft Wes Clark into a red state’s Governor’s mansion. And, I hear that Edwards is considering a run at North Carolina’s top job. Conventional wisdom is that they’ll be able to skim off a few red states, and they won’t have the legislative history that someone in the Senate has (i.e. the Repubs can’t use the “you voted against body armor for our troops

  4. Jim
    Posted November 7, 2004 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think our nominee needs to be a Southerner, but governors make much stronger candidates than senators.

    Definitely Edwards for NC Governor in 2008! Easley will be term-limited, and if Edwards chooses to run for President in 2012 at age 59 (or even in 2016 at age 63), he’ll be a much stronger candidate than he was this year.

    And I have to agree about Rodham Clinton. Love her though.

  5. dan from austin
    Posted November 7, 2004 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    I know that a lot of people are really down on Nader, but I keep wishing that he would run for governor of his home state of Connecticut. (That’s my old home state, too.) He could run on an anti-corruption ticket that would resonate with all kinds of voters, since CT is getting to be known as a corrupt little state.

    I asked him about this at a talk and he declined, but it still seems great. Imagine the attorney general he could appoint and as Governor he could actually affect corporate rule to some degree. Many corporate headquarters in CT.
    Anyway, it’s just a pipe dream, I guess.

    I don’t want Hillary to run for the same reason that I wanted Bush to lose. Political dynasties would have or founding fathers rolling in their graves. I think that they are profoundly undemocratic.

  6. [steph]
    Posted November 8, 2004 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    I know these are all excuses, but as a member of the youth, I feel the need to point out the following:
    The youth are less likely to have reliable transportation to the polls.
    The youth are less likely to have jobs that will allow them time off to go vote, which, in some places, means taking the whole day off.
    The youth are less likely to have jobs that will give them a paid day off to go vote (paid sick leave or vacation day) and less likely to be able to afford the financial burden of taking an entire day off without pay.

    It is also important to note that these same factors are true for low-income voters.

    I’m not saying that this excuses anyone’s behavior, but for youth voters, getting out to vote isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

    Of all the youth I know, only one didn’t vote. And that’s because he lives in MA.

    Just a thought.

  7. mark
    Posted November 8, 2004 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I don’t still blame the kids, Steph. The more time that passes, and the more that I look at the numbers, the less angry I am with them. I just went into the election thinking that America’s youth really had it within their power to get Bush out of office, and I was disappointed to see that they didn’t take the opportunity… As for not being able to take the time off from work to vote, I suppose that might be the case for some, but absentee ballots are fairly easy to come by. Maybe next time we should organize a campaign not just to register young voters, but to put absentee ballots in their hands.

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