The Apathy Of Generation X

For the past 25 years it has been wondered why the young people of
America have shared the same apathetic attitude
towards politics as the older generation of Americans. Indeed, the
issues concerning young voters are just as important as those
concerning older voters. Why the newest voters choose to abstain their
right has long been studied. While it has been proven
that the vote of young people can make or a break an election, most
candidates are reluctant to relate themselves to young
people. When that Tuesday in November comes, young people choose not be
heard, assuring themselves future neglect by the
part of elected officials.
There are reasons that young people do not vote, or get involved in
political actions. They range from apathy to just plain
not having enough time. One of the larger reasons is that most
candidates are much older then those 18-25. This would put the
generation gap in between candidates and the youthful voters. A 19 year
old Trinity College student remarks about Bob Dole, I
think he is making himself look older by speaking about certain issues
we (young people) can not relate to. When asked to give
an example the student stated, "he made a reference to World War I, I
thought he was going to say he fought in that one too!"
(www.mtv.com/chooseorlose). While Bob Dole is a isolated instance, many
youthful voters feel that there is a ever growing
distance between them and the older generations. Another reason that
young people are turning away is lack of education
towards politics. While this could be said for any age group, it seems
to be more prevalent in younger people. The lifestyle of
younger people does not allow for a everyday exposure to politics as
those of a older generation. Thomas Banks, a 19 year
old student, when asked why he was not watching the 1992 Presidential
Debates responded, "I guess because I don\'t really
see what\'s going on at college. I feel pretty isolated. It doesn\'t seem
as important to me as studying. I guess". Although not in a
career yet, the life of a student is proving to be just as busy as those
in the older generations. People in the full time labor are
not the only ones who can use a hassle-full life as an excuse not to get
involved. There is another major reason that young
people feel isolated and set apart from the political world. For those
who take the time to educate themselves, and to
participate in what activities they can; they soon find that the major
candidates have paid little, if any attention to the issues that
effect young people the most. Chris Weinkopf, associate editor of
National Review, when speaking about how Bill Clinton and
Bob Dole are talking to young voters said, "I think both of them are
really just paying lip service to young people in the way
they address issues" (www.mtv.com/issues.html).
When young voters make themselves heard in an election, they can
turn the outcome like no other age group can. Even
with minimal turn-out on the part of 18-25 year olds. Elections have
been won or lost because of who young people do or do
not support. In 1992, 50% of registered voters under the age of 30
turned out to vote. In that election, Bill Clinton received
50% of the under 30 vote (Bush received 30%, Perot 20%). Clintons 20%
margin of victory in the young people vote was his
largest in any age group and may have very well put him in the White
House. Since John Andersons independent run at the
White House in 1980, young people have been the strongest supporters for
those outside the two party system. Now in 1996,
even though Ross Perot has a dismal 5% overall, his support amongst the
younger voters is in the double digits.
There are many things that will make young people get involved. The
biggest thing that gets the attention of youthful
voters is the same thing that gets the attention of older voters, money.
When the financial status of a young person is threatened,
they are more likely to get involved in political activities. Issues
such as student loans, tax cuts, minimum wage and Pell Grant
minimums are issues that turn the heads of younger voters. Other issues
that effect young people and make them get involved
include birth control, use of tobacco products and A.I.D.S. research to
name a few more. In 1991, Montanas state Legislature
enacted a unique referendum. It allowed the states high school students
to determine whether or not tobacco products should
be