The [Electoral] Stupidity of Youth

While polls are not very accurate at predicting how young people will vote, early voting statistics suggest that, once again, the turn-out for younger voters will be low, despite the number of issues being championed by Republicans that will penalize younger Americans.

According to various surveys, too many young people aren’t voting because “the politicians are too old and don’t speak to us.” Or because the young don’t see anything or anyone that appeals to them. Or because they think politics isn’t that important.

This is stupidity based on the internet ala carte menu mindset of a generation that has been able, at least in terms of products and entertainment, to get almost anything they want. And if they can’t get what they want, they won’t buy a product, or visit that site or venue.

What they seem incapable of grasping is that in politics your choices are limited in reality to two choices. All too often in American politics, the choice isn’t between which candidate is better, but which one is least bad.

If you’re young and don’t like either, and don’t vote, the choice is made by those who care enough to vote, and in most cases, those voters are “old people” many of whom who don’t have the interests of the young at heart.

If you’re young and have student loans, and don’t vote, you’re likely to lose the chance for some loan forgiveness, because Republicans in six states have filed a lawsuit to stop loan forgiveness, and the majority of Republicans, who are either old or against higher education, especially for minorities, oppose loan forgiveness.

One of the greatest risks to life for young women are complications involving reproduction, yet states controlled by Republicans have already increased those health risks by the way they’ve crafted anti-abortion laws so that women, especially young women, who aren’t well off, even working women, face greater risks of dying.

Far too many young people don’t seem to understand that politics isn’t like the internet, where you can come back later for a better product, or not buy at all, and not suffer. In politics, not choosing to vote is, in effect, a form of electoral Russian roulette. It might not affect you, but then again, the effects could be severe.

But the Democrats aren’t addressing this problem; the Republicans don’t see youth issues as a problem for them; and far too many young people don’t understand or think it doesn’t apply to them; and I’m pointing this out on a platform that very few young people seem to frequent, because, after all, the young think everything should be available where they are.

11 thoughts on “The [Electoral] Stupidity of Youth”

  1. Postagoras says:

    Your point is well-taken, but it’s not just the youth. Below is the turnout for the past Presidential elections. Each election, millions sit out the election. In our “best” year, 2008, more than 80 million citizens didn’t bother voting.

    1980 54.2%
    1984 55.2%
    1988 52.8%
    1992 58.2%
    1996 51.7%
    2000 54.3%
    2004 60.1%
    2008 62.5%
    2012 58.0%
    2016 59.2%
    (data from Wikipedia)

    1. KTL says:


      You are right on this. And US voters have been remiss to vote in both local and national elections. Sadly, there are lots of interests working against a high percentage of citizens voting in this country. One bright spot is that the 2020 presidential election turned out a LOT of eligible voters.

      Per the US census:
      APRIL 29, 2021 — The 2020 presidential election had the highest voter turnout of the 21st century, with 66.8% of citizens 18 years and older voting in the election, according to new voting and registration tables released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

      And, I will add, the election was not stolen from the big baby.

      1. Tim says:

        It seems then that Trump had one good effect as the electorate was more mobilised to vote.

        I believe Australia imposes a fine if you do not vote, or put another way, you can pay not to vote.

  2. Dave says:

    You are correct Tim, in Australia voting is compulsory and you are fined if you don’t vote without a valid reason, such as being overseas.

    1. Daze says:

      Even being overseas isn’t an excuse if you knew you were going to be away when the election was called (me being an Australian who votes by post from the UK!)

  3. R. Hamilton says:

    If someone takes a loan, they agree to pay it back.

    Why should that somehow be different for student loans?

    It’s just the usual reason for handouts, not REAL “justice” or “needs” but buying supporters. There ought to be some severe penalty that applies to politicians attempting such a thing.

    Not to mention that the use of the HEROES Act to justify such massive cancellation of student loans (at massive expense to the taxpayer!) is legitimately questionable (did Congress REALLY intend to let the executive control that much spending, can Congress even forfeit their own powers to that degree?), and the lawsuits just might succeed.

    Yes, young people should be more involved…but NOT with the objective of carving out their chunk of the goodies; nobody should be doing that! What the happened to the Kennedy quote “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”? I guess Camelot was way too conservative for today’s left.

    1. KTL says:

      Your man DJT is well known for not paying his bills/creditors/contractors. Would you also like him to be accountable for that behavior?

    2. Mayhem says:

      Reframing that question – is higher education of benefit to society? Why do you feel that the best educational offerings should only be available to the wealthy?

      In other words, why was free education fine for the postwar generations, but considered something that should be paid for nowadays? And why is a more diverse education considered a net loss to society over a narrow focus on making money in a specific technical way?

      Yes, students today are more demanding of their educators, but part of that comes from treating education as a product – I pay money, I buy degree. Quality and talent and hard work are replaced by a simple transactional relationship.

      On the Youth of today argument … well, youth is a time for making stupid decisions, and I still remember my first vote was for the right wing libertarian candidate because I didn’t understand what their policies actually meant.
      Besides, we’ve been making the same arguments for a very very long time …

  4. Tom says:

    Perhaps the youth of today do fall into this culture and don’t see the point of voting:

    Personality Type, as well as Politics, Predicts Who Shares Fake News

    Highly impulsive people who lean conservative are more likely to share false news stories. They have a desire to create chaos and won’t be deterred by fact-checkers

    November 12, 2021
    Scientific American

    The Democrats have still not emphasized the result of this election costing our relative freedom within a democracy.

  5. Ryan Jackson says:

    While we obviously won’t know the result until after it happens… How much is youth not voting and how much is youth refusing to acknowledge the polls or youth just not focusing on the media the way the older generation expects? How much of it might have ulterior motives?

    I personally don’t answer polls and don’t ever really discuss what I’m going to vote (though anyone who knows me can guess pretty accurately). I don’t because I’d rather polls not show comfortable leads for my choices. Because that leads to complacency. Look at 2016. How many of us walked into the nightmare blind because it never occurred to us that psychopath could win? How many people didn’t bother to vote not only because they didn’t like Clinton but because they thought it was “obvious” Clinton would win?

    Maybe young voters went apathetic, we’ll see and it’ll be terrifying, but I do think there’s a solid take on this that young voters just aren’t bothering with polls.

  6. Ariel Laidlaw says:

    So, I would consider myself a young person (29) and a little bit of an outlier because I majored in politics at university and am politically engaged and we have talked about youth engagement a lot. I would say most youth I know that are not engaging with politically are pretty disenchanted with our elected representatives and many feel like the party’s are basically the same, just two groups that hate on each other.
    I am Canadian and our government has been pretty disappointing these last 10 years, and our NDP (there more of the socialist youth friendly group that supports unions and student issues) backed our liberal party to make a majority government and let the Liberals have a lot of power. Them having the difference between the conservatives and liberals ( who each had about 40 percent of the vote) meant they could have worked independently and forced both parties to work together on a variety of issues, which would have gone along way to healing the party tribalism culture that has gotten out of hand in the recent years.
    On a side note lots of youth got really engaged when we legalized weed in 2016 voting, I was in school and my professors were surprised it was a large voting issue as it was students telling them that it was important rather than polling data they received. To me this means party’s are probably polling the issues that affect youth incorrectly, I know lots of issues that affect the youth are big in the states, but many people take time to learn about money and might not have the bandwidth to get how much different taxation plans affect them. While I think the youth are a key vote, I also think in the states particularly party’s benefit from the youth being disengage from politics and that communities are a big part of engaging everyone in civil society. Blaming young voters for not voting isn’t going to vote but having a friend group that does helps, my sisters turned 18 just before the last election and they voted with their friends and convinced other friends to vote even when some of them felt unsure about voting or like they didn’t know how to. One of my sisters literally said ‘we have one actual job as adult citizens vote, and don’t break the law’. So maybe talk to the young people you know and say it’s exciting to go vote, invite them to go with you because like any trip it’s more fun together.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *