Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

My generation showed up

By Jack Schlossberg, Special to CNN
updated 4:25 PM EST, Thu November 8, 2012
Penn State University students wait in line to vote on campus in State College, Pennsylvania.
Penn State University students wait in line to vote on campus in State College, Pennsylvania.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jack Schlossberg: Young voters were said to lack enthusiasm and to be unlikely to vote
  • He says they turned out to support President Obama, causes they believe in
  • Voting is a responsibility, he says, and his generation is prepared to do much more

Editor's note: Jack Schlossberg is a New York resident, a sophomore at Yale University and a contributor to the Yale Daily News and The Yale Herald. He is the grandson of President John F. Kennedy.

(CNN) -- It wasn't supposed to happen. America's youth were supposed to be apathetic and disheartened. We weren't supposed to be at the polls.

The word was that we had fallen out of love with President Obama, the man who inspired us four years ago. Big money would silence our voices and make our efforts inconsequential. Two-thousand-twelve would be nothing like 2008; the youth vote wouldn't be the decisive force it was four years ago.

Jack Schlossberg
Jack Schlossberg

We saw it differently. In two consecutive elections, more than half of my generation voted: It is clear now, if it wasn't before, that we recognize our responsibility to our country. In fact, this time we made up an even larger percentage (19%) of the electorate than we did four years ago (18%).

Opinion roundup: Where Obama, and America, go from here

We still support the man who has stood up for us: Sixty percent of voters age 18-29 chose President Obama on Tuesday. I don't think any young person was surprised, however, that older Americans had no idea what we were thinking.

Why Democrats have electoral advantage
Demographics of an Obama victory
Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



My generation has been burdened by a misguided war that damaged our credibility abroad. We've been told the national debt is so large that we'll never be able to pay it back.

We have experienced an economic crisis unlike any since the Great Depression. We have watched our environment head toward disaster and our government stand at an impasse. We have been told over and over that America is no longer the great country it once was.

But our participation in the election and our overwhelming support for the president are indicative of our hope for the future and our compulsion to start tackling these problems now.

Opinion: Women gain wider access to power

We don't support the president just because he's "cool," plays basketball or listens to Jay-Z. Instead, we recognize that he, too, is ready to meet these great challenges. And we want to help him build a stronger, safer, more just America.

The next time someone claims that my generation doesn't care and won't help, remind them that we showed up, voted for change and are ready to get to work.
Jack Schlossberg

This election also revealed that my generation has moved past many of the debates of our parents and grandparents: The youth vote was imperative to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maine and Maryland, the rejection of constitutional discrimination in Minnesota and the election of a president who supports equal pay, reproductive rights and fair immigration reform. For us, these issues are a matter of common sense.

We may have been disenchanted with politics over the past few years, but this election proves that it's not because we don't care. Rather, we reject petty posturing, partisan gridlock and inaction.

Voting is great, but it's not an accomplishment. It's a responsibility.

We recognize that going to the polls is the easiest thing we are going to have to do. In August, I wrote that in this election, young people would display a deep commitment to our country and its ideals, and provide a preview of the America we intend to build. We accomplished the first two, and that gives me hope that we will succeed in building a future of which we can be proud.

The next time someone claims that my generation doesn't care and won't help, remind them that we showed up, voted for change and are ready to get to work.

Letter from the editor: Election night was about the facts

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jack Schlossberg.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
updated 6:48 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
updated 4:49 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT