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 3:14 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT