Politics.The word alone yields so many reactions. Some people become impassioned by issues such as domestic policy, culture wars and defense contracts. Others yawn upon hearing about subjects like outsourcing of employment and tort reform, while still others shudder in fear at the mention of things like the BD/GDP ratio and WMD.
Regardless of political stance, whether liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, moderate or independent, and even those who distance themselves from political classification, politics should be important to you. Most twentysomethings skip the front-page stories on our president’s budget proposal in favor of the latest news on the entertainment front. Think about it, when you’re waiting in line at the local grocer, what is your eye drawn to—the new Time article on President Bush’s credibility, or the latest reason Star gives for JLo dumping Ben? Which article do you think has the greater impact on the kind of life your children will have? Exactly.
All this leads us to a much, much more important question: Why don’t we care? Out of an estimated 50 million young adults in America (according to Census.gov), only 18 million of us voted during the last national election. That’s only 36 percent of us. Where were the other 64 percent of young Americans? Where were you? The presidential election was decided by less than a thousand votes in the state of Florida, whose pivotal stance determined the election’s final outcome.
What is obvious is that we, being the age group 18-30, don’t care. The reasons for our apathy are numerous and varied. Some of us use the real lack of political integrity on the part of our elected officials as an excuse. Others feel voiceless and ignored by those in power. While such disregard and dishonesty naturally lead to disenchantment, twentysomethings are more than disenchanted; they’re disengaged, which is much more dangerous. Dissatisfaction would seem to motivate us to choose honorable leaders with probity, who represent us and give resonance to our voice.
Yet, twentysomethings are anything but motivated when it comes to affairs of state, and if the political programming on twentysomething-friendly television stations like MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central are any indication, we are more concerned with political candidate’s Pop IQ than economic stance. Is it more important for our country’s most powerful political leaders to know all four members of *NSYNC, or is it more important for them to know about fiscal responsibility?
The key issue for twentysomethings is simple: Who represents us? The role we have to play in this nation of ours, in the years and decades to come is beyond being important; it is absolutely vital, in every sense of the word. The success of our nation and the world we are building for our future families and loved ones, is not dependent upon the work of our baby-booming parents before us. The success of our world is dependent upon our involvement. Our parents labored to build up our country to where we are economically, socially and politically, but at some point they must pass the baton. Unless something changes, there is a danger that no one will be there to carry it on.
So what are we, the young adults of America, to do? How do tweeners make a difference politically? The first step is to care. You cannot make an impact until you’ve taken an interest. Get informed about current issues, watch one of the many 24 hour news channels in the morning while getting ready, listen to AM radio during your commute, or simply read the entire front page of your local newspaper before you dive into the comics.
The outcome of issues such as gay marriage, stem cell research and national security will all change the way we live. These seemingly obscure topics have an impact on our jobs, our belief systems and our world.
If we are to turn away in disinterest, or fear, or even disgust, we are sealing the fate of our own future. The future is in our, in your hands. Pay attention to your world; inform yourself about what happens outside the world of MTV, Starbucks and Best Buy. Most importantly, take an interest in your future before someone else takes your future away.
[Nate Murray is a pastor to students in Sarasota, Fla., where he teaches students to take an active role in the world in which they live . He almost always reads the front page before the comics, except on Sundays when the comics are in color.]
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