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 11:39 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
updated 5:03 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
updated 3:04 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
updated 8:32 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
updated 7:19 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Julian Zelizer says control of the Senate will be decided by a few close contests
updated 8:12 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
The response of some U.S. institutions that should know better to Ebola has been anything but inspiring, writes Idris Ayodeji Bello.
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT