Recently, on campuses like ours, the Youth for Ron Paul campaign has been placing ads based on popular Internet memes around school — image macros of Ron Paul’s face and phrases like “Is a Christian; Doesn’t Exploit It.” Paul is using these popular memes to hook youth voters, using the one thing he thinks young people care about: the Internet.
Do presidential candidates really need to pander to youth voters with ad campaigns based on Internet memes? Do they really think college students are that far removed from reality?
While these campaigns may be clever and funny, it’s just a sign of how most politicians condescend to the youth in this country. They are basically telling us that the only things we pay attention to are silly pictures of cats on the Internet, so why try and talk about the issues?
Youth voters have always been a moot demographic; Republicans make almost no attempt to target them during elections, because hey, the youth are all just a bunch of rock ‘n’ roll loving, TV-watching, drug-smoking liberals, right? Maybe if politicians actually responded to the issues affecting young people (education, creating jobs, etc.) they wouldn’t need to resort to cartoons and jokes. We may be young, but we are not infants.
Young people in this country have never been respected for their opinions or political leanings. We have been pacified for years by the media that has been shoved down our throats since childhood; as long as we could consume peacefully, why would we bother protesting about the state of things? Let’s just forget the fact that once we graduate, we’re pretty much fucked.
Politicians in America, we want you to know something: Young people know their shit. We have opinions and we pay attention to politics. Sure, we’re not all the most educated or up-to-date on what’s happening, but we have voices, and we do vote (not nearly as much as we should, but still). We want the facts, we want a platform; we don’t need rage-toons or web comics for you to get your point across. It is possible to get your views across in a way that grabs attention without stooping to a juvenile level.
But we young people are part of the problem. We’ve failed to prove ourselves as politically or civic-minded citizens to the rest of this country, so we have been taken advantage of. If youth voted as frequently as the elderly, money for education would be a guarantee, like Social Security. We are not represented or heard because we don’t vote. We are just as willing, if not more, to go to war and give our lives for this country as any adult, but we suffer more than any other demographic.
All our lives we were told to follow a formula: study hard, go to school, get a good job, profit and be happy. So what do we do now that the recipe that worked so well for our parents has failed? We vote. Show these politicians that we have a brain, and that we are angry. Youth voters need strength in numbers to get anything done.
So kids, fellow young people of America, get off your asses and if you haven’t already done so, register to vote! Prove to the politicians that you have something to say, and that your vote is worth fighting for.
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