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To a young voter: It's your journey now

By Donna Brazile, CNN Political Contributor
  • Donna Brazile: 40 years ago, we had Vietnam War, the draft, civil rights and jobs
  • Brazile: Today, no jobs, Big Brother part of everyday life, and two hidden wars
  • Now, truth is obscure, she says; it's harder to get fired up online instead of the streets
  • Brazile: "You are the hope of our most treasured future"; next step is your vote

Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee, a nationally syndicated columnist and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000 and wrote "Cooking With Grease."

(CNN) -- They say there's an "enthusiasm gap." They say that you're apathetic, that you're too tuned in, that there's too much "i" in your life.

They say a lot of things. They said them 40 years ago, too. They got it wrong then. Forty years is not so long -- just two generations, after all, a journey through a wilderness. We haven't changed so much that they won't get it wrong again.

They thought that it was all about the slogans. You know: Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Tune in, turn on and drop out.

Didn't one of the snarkers say we should make marijuana a wedge issue? Please. Wedgies are for juveniles.

Look at the delinquents playing with guns at political rallies run like sporting events. Or stomping on an opponent. You're smarter than that.

So you've got two wars, and we only had one. Ours was front-page news night and day. Seen any flag-draped coffins lately, or footage of wounded vets on TV? Your wars have gone on longer, but at least you don't have to play if you don't want to. We had to play hide-and-seek with Uncle Sam and ping-pong with our conscience.

It's harder to sort out the truth. It's harder to find the causes when everyone's pointing at symptoms.
--Donna Brazile

We had villains in the White House, but you've got a game-changer. You can draw a line, however squiggly, from Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama. And remember, it's the last season for "Entourage," but not for you.

But the truth is that you do have it a lot harder. Big Brother's still around -- on Patriot Act steroids -- and "War is Peace" has gone from an author's warning to a part of your everyday lives.

We took to the streets, chanting "Old enough to fight, old enough to vote," and won that right for generations to come. Eighteen was a magic number back then -- draft, drink and vote.

You've got that vote. Treasure it. Use it. Forty years ago, we'd been to the moon. We expected 2001 to be like the movie. It turned into "1984." Sorry about that.

Forty years ago, the Beatles broke up. Sorry about that, too.

The job market was good, the economy up, colleges baby-booming and whether you were a thinker or a tinkerer, you could find work.

Not anymore -- after all, getting lied into war by robber barons will do that to a national economy. (Today's robber barons are different -- think multinationals, conglomerates. Oil and secret wars.)

We probably had more reasons to be angry. After all, being the unwilling star of a TSA airport peep-show is not the same as getting clubbed over the head because you're black -- or standing next to one. There's civil rights, and then there's civil rights. Forty years ago, I'm not sure I would have believed that.

Our promised land has become your wilderness. It's your journey now.
--Donna Brazile

But in many ways, you've got it harder. It's harder to keep up. It's harder to sort out the truth. It's harder to find the causes when everyone's pointing at symptoms. And it's harder to solve deep problems with a quick fix. No, not harder. Impossible.

And in this mess of virals and tiny screens, it's harder to get motivated to vote. It's harder to find a reason to get "fired up, ready to go." The reasons aren't outside your window, marching down the street like they used to be.

So let me try to give you one. Forty years ago, my generation didn't know it was heading into a journey in the wilderness. We thought it was just one more small step, or giant leap, to the promised land.

Because while the times are still a'changing, it's a different change altogether this time. Our promised land has become your wilderness. It's your journey now, out of that wilderness and to your own promised land.

We didn't know it back then, but you are the hope "we were looking forward to" and "you are the hope of our most treasured future." The next step -- the next vote --has to be yours.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Donna Brazile.