Despite all the doubt and skepticism of the strength and resilience of the youth vote in this year’s presidential election, young people showed up Tuesday and made their voices heard. We have now, in the culmination of the past three elections, firmly set in place a high standard of commitment to the issues that concern us. It’s a fervent commitment that comes with an increasing percentage of the electorate every four years, and since 2004, has been marked by voter turnout of nearly 50 percent. The concerns that those under 30 have about the U.S. economy, foreign policy and social issues will no longer be brushed aside by presidential candidates.
Even with many political pundits proclaiming our generation has a lack of enthusiasm compared to 2008, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement reports that at least 49.3 percent of eligible young voters went to the polls Tuesday, compared with 52 percent in 2008. Not all of the votes have been tallied, and this percentage may continue to increase as more ballots are counted over the next several days. CIRCLE also reports that around 80 of President Barack Obama’s electoral votes depended on our support; 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds voted for Obama nationwide, and he could not have been re-elected without us.
We proved in this election that the ideas and vision of our generation must be taken seriously by both major political parties.
Now we must come together, united, to face the issues at hand, and as Obama said Tuesday, “Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you and you’ve made me a better president.” Let us continue to strive to be better citizens, and remain engaged in the discussion about the future of our country.