[Aziz] Party With a Purpose

The most tragic outcome of the 2000 election debacle is that it added to a list of excuses that Generation Y already has on why they shouldn't bother to vote. When you look at the hang-ups of young voters, the same answers constantly arise. The most popular reason to evade elections seems to be because none of the issues debated at election time affect the young voter. Another reason is because politicians don't target young voters (outside of occasional appearances on MTV programs). However, I think there is a more evident reason: lack of education.

During Jubilee Jam, I volunteered at The Collective's voting booth signing up those who weren't registered to vote. I noticed, though, that the majority of the people between the ages of 18-24 were already registered to vote. I then pondered why is it we aren't going to the polls. My answer is that Generation Y isn't educated enough on politics to vote. This does not mean that they do not pay attention to issues and the candidates; it just means that they are unaware of how the system can work and affect them.

I am an advocate of solutions, though, not just problems, so this year I would like to help my generation solve their problems with politics. I hate when people say that the issues don't affect them because they do. Though candidates avoid most real issues, as an American citizen you have the right to bring them up. When candidates are debating, you should go and confront your politicians and ask them what you want to know about them, and their positions on issues and plans for solving problems. Demand that they get beyond the sound bites and the rhetoric.

Have to work and can't make the debate? No fear: Every candidate I've ever known has an office that is open to the public. All you have to do is call the candidate directly or drop by when your time allows you to. Most politicians are excited to see a young face and will address your concerns—we just don't ask often enough. If we start asking enough, they will be falling over themselves for our support. But if we're apathetic, that's what we'll get in return. (And who knows who might need a job from them one day?)

You must convince the candidates, and yourselves, that the issues do affect you, and you care what happens. No, we are not old enough to worry about Medicaid and Social Security, yet, but some of our parents and guardians are. Loss of certain benefits can have a direct toll on you, especially if you have to help your parents or guardians financially, so let's keep an eye on these issues, not for our sake but for our parents' and grandparents' sake.

Generation Y needs to make politicians cater to them. Make them come to tour college campuses and speak on issues that affect you. I heard that people throw block parties for George Bush, and the president sends them cards and thanks them. How cool would it be if you threw a block party endorsing your favorite candidate? You could educate your friends and still have fun or, as I like to say, you can party with a purpose. Rallies are another way to get noticed by your favorite or least favorite politician. Gather up your friends with the same political beliefs and go be seen and have your voices heard.

I think there is nothing worse than a silent protester—the person who believes in something, but no one around them knows it. In my opinion, when you choose not to vote that's exactly what you become: a silent protester. To me, you become the person who says "I'd rather to give up my right to have a choice than fight for my chance to have a voice."

I am asking you this year to take a stand, to go out and vote, but most importantly be heard. You may not win this particular battle, but there are many more to be fought. I also would like to remind you that we are the next presidents, vice presidents, secretaries of defense and state; let's make necessary changes now so the government isn't in shambles when we get it.

Cordie Aziz is the classifieds account manager for the Jackson Free Press.

Previous Comments


"In my opinion, when you choose not to vote thatís exactly what you become: a silent protester. " When you choose not to vote your conscience, what is it that you become? If you choose to vote but can't find anyone to vote for, what is it that you become? When you imply voting is the only effective form of protest (despite the fact that virtually all gains, not the least of which is the right to vote), what have you become?



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