Pajama Perspectives

Ryan Reeh

By Ryan ReehThe Daily Northwestern

Last Tuesday’s midterm election results probably didn’t surprise many poll-watchers and political analysts, but what may surprise them is the amount of attention young people gave the 2006 elections.

At the same time, there is a kind of ambivalence surrounding the youth vote that threatens its relevance to the political landscape.

Should politicians cater to the younger part of the electorate? Do they really matter?

My Magic 8-Ball tells me: “All Signs Point To Yes.”

However, you could argue for the lack of follow-up on the “Vote or Die” mantra of the 2004 election. It cost Democrats the presidency, but the movement was nothing short of a phenomenal social experiment. The “Would They or Wouldn’t They Affect the Results” speculation brought about a level of activism not seen since John Kerry protested the Vietnam War by throwing his medals over a fence.

I attended an editorial board endorsement meeting last week and the conversation was nothing short of a lively debate. My young colleagues actually cared about politics. It was at that very moment that I was proud to be young, informed and influential.

Yes, this past Tuesday, it would appear that few college students cared about the 2006 midterm elections. A Daily report cited 241 total voters showing up to on-campus sites that collectively contained 3,723 registered voters, which included areas with student housing and portions of downtown Evanston. The numbers, which came from precinct workers, are not representative of a larger whole of students who may have voted absentee or participated in early voting in their home states.

The time has passed for the issues to stop affecting young people. Our political leaders are deciding our future, whether it is rewriting fiscal policy for tax credits aimed at college students or sending us to fight wars on terror.

If you haven’t cared before, you should. I could even respect going to the polls and casting an “empty” ballot in protest if you are dissatisfied with the candidates. (In Illinois, you just might have.)

But go to the polls in 2008. College is a time of activism and information, and I fail to see the point in giving politicians a reason to ignore us.

After all, they already ignore our parents quite enough.

Reach Ryan Reeh at [email protected]