While you were out there somewhere undoubtedly feasting on some overpriced and under-portioned aged quail and black pepper pickle froth, the general election for public officials happened last week. And as the interwebs were trending with political chatter, talk proved to be cheap. Turns out, 2014 general election voter turnout was the lowest it’s been in any election cycle since World War II. Just 36.4% of the voting-eligible population cast ballots as of last Tuesday, continuing a steady decline in midterm voter participation that has spanned several decades. The results are dismal, but not surprising. Midterm election voter turnout is always lower than presidential elections, but that percentage is “the punch line to a bad joke“, according to MSNBC.com.
But hey, that pickle froth was a seasonal offering so you did what you needed to do.
Just know any complaints about taxes, transportation, abortion, the environment, ordinances and protocols, or student loan debt are hereby void – mostly due to your overwhelming apathy and unrealistic expectations of work to be done by everyone else in your community.
Yikes. Does that sting a little?
On the one, you millennials and twenty-somethings alike have an incredible upper hand. You are currently the majority of the workforce, and on the cusp of dominating the working population some 80 million strong. You are rewriting consumerism as we know it and totally paving the way for the technology industry. You are active, social, and [somewhat] involved. You are poised for influence!
But on the other hand, you are fighting a whole slew of unfortunate labels and generational stereotypes that might be making you drag your feet. You’ve heard it before – you’re a coddled bunch, you’re socially disinterested (unless it comes with a like button), you’re entitled, you lack conviction, and you can’t commit. To anything. Ever.
On top of all of that, you’re also just young humans. And selfishness is expected. Your 20s aren’t meant for political activism or philanthropy. According to every single millennial-targeted online publication, and, well, history, your 20s are supposed to be spent finding your spirit animal and enjoying the aforementioned plated pickle froth. Freedom! Festivals! Traveling! Substance abuse! Buzzfeed!
But twenty-somethings, millennials, graduates – I want to encourage you to start facilitating a different set of stereotypes. You don’t have to wait until your 30s to be cognizant of your surroundings and to root yourself in something greater than yourself. Voting is a really simple way for you to not only help direct the future of this country, but to immerse yourself in topics that call for a much bigger conversation than that microbrewery you just gave 4 stars to on Yelp. Hate to say it, but right now your biggest political contribution is incorporating Obama with the #selfie hashtag. Find your voice, set yourself up for success, and discover how you can devote your time and talent for the betterment of your own damn future.
After all, it’s up to you.
If you’re in Austin and you feel brave enough to deny yourself hipster debauchery a couple nights a month, get involved! There are tons of awesome groups for young people in this city, all spanning across a wide range of interests. Some of my favorites include:
A former twenty-something.