Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Step up to the plate
--Roland S. Martin, 360 Contributor

Young folks need to step up to be heard.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) once told me a pretty funny story about young voters and their demands.

It seems one day a group of hip-hoppers was blasting him, saying if he wanted to be re-elected, he'd better listen to them or they would vote him out.

His reply?

"Y'all don't vote. It's those old ladies in senior citizen homes and the public housing units who keep me in office."

That will always be the case until young voters stop talking a good game and get in the game.

Sen. Barack Obama is banking on young voters, and those disenchanted with politics, to put him over the top in Iowa.

Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards are more traditional, leaning on women and labor to trek out in the cold.

If Obama bets right, he's on top. If not, he'll be the latest candidate seduced by the fleeting fancy of the young, only to be left out in the cold when it most counts.

www.rolandsmartin.com
Posted By CNN: 12:34 PM ET
  11 Comments
If I'm "disenchanted with politics" the last person I'd vote for is a Democrat. Their answer to all our problems is bigger government, more power than ever to Congress and higher taxes all around. That means "politics" in Washington would get more contentious than ever.
Posted By Anonymous xtina chicago IL : 12:45 PM ET
Hi Roland,
I work with high school aged students, many of whom will be 18 by the next election. Many of them have indicated a real zeal for voting in this election. It will be interesting to see if they really follow through. I know when I turned 18, the first thing I did was register to vote!
Posted By Blogger pamina : 12:53 PM ET
I'll admit that many people my age don't feel the need to get out and vote, but to assume that all youth could simply care less is absurd. In the last Presidential election I was not even old enough to vote, but I spent election day working the phones to ensure that people got out and voted. I know many college students who are currently working on various Presidential campaigns around the country. Perhaps if the candidates focused more on the youth in this country then the youth would be willing to go out and vote. I can finally vote in this Presidential election and I am looking for a candidate who cares about the things that matter to me. I'll continue to watch CNN closely to see what the candidates have to say.
Posted By Anonymous Kim Miller, Lancaster, PA : 1:02 PM ET
Roland,
If Obama is relying on the young voters then he has a LONG row to hoe!! They may talk a good game but never come through in the end! Hope he has a back-up plan! If not it may be C-Ya later alligator! LOL

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 1:08 PM ET
Hi Rowland and Happy New Year!

One of the very first things I did when I turned 18 was to register to vote. I couldn't wait to have my voice heard and I have voted in every presidential election since 1984.

I think the biggest reasons that this was important to me was because of my Grandfather. He was very active in the Democratic Party for as long as I can remember and politics was a frequent discussion as I was growing up.

I think a lot of young people may not register or get involved because their parents don't. One of the reasons our system of government doesn't work as well as it could is because not enough people take the time to vote. Same could be said for our legal system, the people dodging jury duty should take the time to serve. It’s called Civic Duty.

When you think about it, there really isn't a good reason for not voting. Employers are required to give you the time off to vote. I enjoy going to the polls, so that's how I cast my ballot. My mother and grandmother prefer to mail in there ballots.

So, in my opinion, if you don’t vote… you forfeit your right to complain about the economy, immigration, the War, or anything else that you don’t think Congress or the President are doing anything about.

We live in the greatest democracy on the face of this earth, but unfortunately the majority of the American public are apathetic and/or have short attention spans.

When you travel to other parts of the world you truly begin to understand how blessed we are to live here in the United States. It's too bad that about only 50% of us take the time to vote. Think how great America could be, again, if everyone took the time to get civically involved.

Sincerely,
Mindy
Surprise, AZ
Posted By Blogger Mindy : 2:02 PM ET
My first voting experience was when my mom and Pa and Grandma dragged me to the polling station. There was a lot of scandal going on with the competing candidates that year- something about them buying youth votes and giving bus rides to the polling station with free pizza offered if they would go and vote...
my vote was then contested loudly with a guy hollering something and people laughing and all eyes on us. I am shy and so this was embarassing to say the least. Then I saw that he hollered and contested just about everyone who looked under the age of 30.
Listening to the candidates speak and hear the crowds heckling them, cheering and jeering. The entire democratic process intrigued me and had me hooked after that. I have never missed a chance to vote since. Especially since I have done some world travelling and have seen for myself what the lack of a woman's right to vote or a poor person's right to vote has on a country.
It is a right and a privelage that I do not take lightly and I vote proudly each and every chance I get.
I wish my girlfriends would do the same. I know many of them do not. People die to have the right to vote. We who have it should not be so flippant about it!
Posted By Blogger Shanny : 2:23 PM ET
In my senior year of high school (1986), the school provided those of us who were eighteen an opportunity to register to vote during school hours. Seeing how it was the Reagan years and we were benefitting from Reaganomics, we all pretty much registered Republican as I remember it. And we all thought voting was something worth doing. The school pushed it. More importantly, our parents did. My Mom's family members have served in public office for forever it seems. I remember going to victory parties for her cousins as a child. I remember watching national conventions with my parents for every presidential election. We discussed politics in my house growing up as easily as we discussed what to buy at the market for dinner. Being a public servant mattered. Knowing the issues mattered. Voting mattered. It still does now into my generation where we've taken turns serving the public in office in one way or another.

The kids that I teach today don't often see where their potential vote will matter. They don't see past the present moment. Their schools, their teachers, their adult mentors, their coaches, their parents, their other family members all have a chance to influence and teach these kids the importance of voting and serving the public. I do every opportunity I can. The adults have to lead the kids. They aren't going to get it on their own. It's up to us to lead them in the direction politically we want them to go.
Posted By Anonymous Tammy, Berwick, LA : 4:28 PM ET
Hi Roland- I NEVER agree with Jesse Jackson senior or junior but I do agree with jr's comments: young people dont vote as they should. I hope this election more will get out and vote. When I turned 18 (10yrs ago) I was excited to vote. Each election I get more excited. So I am going to round up and encourage my nephews and nieces and youngs to vote!
Posted By Blogger Martini Sherri : 6:20 PM ET
I think with kids, you still need to lead by example. My kids are voting for the first time, and have been paying attenton because I've been involved. They, as well as most of their friends, go to college out of state. I'm going to work on absentee ballots for my kids, but most of their friends probably won't bother.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Chicago,Il : 6:29 PM ET
The 18 year old in my family is quite anxious to vote in this election. She hasn't said who she favors but she has said she's going to vote and believes its important to do so in this election. Her friends feel the same way.

I get the impression that she and her friends believe the "Establishment" has let the country go to H*** in a hand basket and they need to step in like a super hero and save it.

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 7:59 PM ET
Roland,

You have to be 18 and older to be able to vote, so I think that Clinton is still in game,for there are also young female voters.

It would help me picture the Obama scene better, if you have some numbers to illustrate the percentage of young voters and their age range in the Iowa population.
Posted By Anonymous Ratna, New York, NY : 8:28 PM ET
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