Young Americans find power in high voter turn out

Students are not much more stratified than they were four years ago.

According to the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, 46 percent of students believe that the country is going in the wrong direction, while 43 percent believe that it is headed in the right direction.

Increased support for social issues like health care and gay marriage from both young conservatives and liberals indicate that students are not only aware, but are playing more active roles in their generation’s America.

Many politicians on both sides of the fence have argued that we are pouring too much debt onto a generation of Americans who are not yet sure of what they are getting into, but that seems increasingly hard to believe with the amount of student activity currently in politics.

College voters are a huge demographic in national elections and can have a huge effect on voter involvement, as we saw with the 2008 elections. In 2008, “nearly 2 million more young Americans under the age of 30” voted in the presidential election than in 2004, according to census data from The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

With student turnout higher than nearly any other demographic, it is important for candidates to not only cater to, but to intimately know, what matters most to college students. Students are one of the largest group advocates for change in our country right now and they are pining for something different.

As seen through the Occupy movements of last year, students around America are dissatisfied with the status quo and the so-called “class warfare” that the rich have waged on the middle class.

While many on the right argue that President Barack Obama is too extreme of a liberal, and will drive this country into the ground, many on the left feel he isn’t radical enough. While students in 2008 supported the president on premises of “hope” and “change,” they have seen anything but that in the last four years.

Students are battling a war that should have never begun. Student loans are held at higher interest rates and are more difficult to obtain than ever before. We are in a similarly bad financial standing as we were four years ago.

Student support for the two presidential candidates are divided almost as evenly as the general public, but students remain consistent on what matters most to them when it comes to politics — transparency and vision.

Student voters value transparency.  They don’t want to know simply that a candidate promises to fix our economy and country; they want to know how they will accomplish these goals.

They don’t want to simply hear candidates’ promises to fix our economy; they want to know exactly how they plan to heal the wounded economy. Students want to become acquainted with candidates’ visions of America. It is no longer a question whether change should take place, but how change can be implemented effectively.

The America being built, or torn down, today is the America we will all live within the foreseeable future. Students voices — our voices — must be heard in order for changes to come that will benefit our country and our children’s country.

Student turnout is higher than ever before. It’s up to us to decide which candidate will bring a change that will benefit the America of tomorrow.

 

Reach the columnist by email at caleb.varoga@asu.edu or follow the columnist at @calebvaroga.