Debating the merits of young voters: in action or inaction?

By Web Master

By Tim Rath & Jared Purcell

Sports Editor and You/Local Editor

Photo illustration by DUSTIN ALEXANDER/The Oakland Post

For Oakland University students who plan to vote on Nov. 4, please fight the urge to wonder whom your peers voted for. A better question to ask yourself may be, “Why are they voting in the first place?”

Some may be at the polls because they want the United States to continue spreading democracy throughout the globe. Others may show up because they don’t feel that college is affordable. Still, others may believe that their choice is simply a more TV-friendly candidate.

There’s got to be some reason why everyone is excited for all this election stuff. FOX wouldn’t preempt “House” for nothing, right?

However, since the 26th Amendment  was added in 1971, setting the legal voting age at 18, young voters have been saddled with the label “uninformed.”

It seems as if for every 10 celebrities inciting youth to “rock the vote,” there’s a sound bite on “20/20” of a kid that doesn’t know Gov. Granholm from Government Issue.

With that in mind, it’s time to settle the debate: is this label fair? Should young voters be decried for a lack of civics studies, or is Joe the Plumber as much to blame as Joe the Student? That will be the topic of this point-counterpoint debate, between The Oakland Post Sports Editor Tim Rath taking the pro-youth vote side and You/Local Editor Jared Purcell taking the anti-youth side.

Jared: It’s obvious, Tim, that the right to vote is often wasted by the young. When campaign commercials are rendered less relevant than Obama Girl, it’s clear that we have a problem.

Look, you wouldn’t stand in line at Cedar Point if you didn’t know what roller coaster loomed large in front of you. You wouldn’t wait for what seems like days for Subway if you didn’t want an overpriced sandwich. So why vote for something you don’t understand?

Any old Rip Van Winkle could sleep through the entire election process, wake up Tuesday morning and cast an ill-informed vote carrying the same weight and importance as a dutiful citizen who did their homework in following all of the candidates. It isn’t fair to the citizen as an individual or the citizenry on a whole.

But you wouldn’t know anything about homework, would you, Tim? You coast through your life as an American the same way that you do your life as a college student; doing as little work as possible, taking the “party” away from legitimately hard workers, all the while making yourself out to be the victim when the system that you feed off of collapses under the weight of your parasitism. Bug off!

Tim: Calm down, bookworm. I’m not going to pretend that I’m proud of seeing statistics from National Geographic like, three out of five young people can’t find Canada on a map after all that John Candy did to teach us about its greatest export.

But what exactly defines “uninformed” to you, Jared? Should voters have to take a quiz on the names of the Supreme Court justices before they’re given a ballot?

Should they write a dissertation on the benefits and drawbacks of the federal government bailing out private bankers? Memorize the names of the candidates’ elementary school teachers? Their favorite foods? Maybe you could personally interview every potential voter before Election Day, just to make sure they know that Barack Obama’s childhood security blanket was nicknamed “Snuffy.” Hey, you’d have something to do on Saturday night for once!

Look, we’re living in a time in which one potential vice president cites her home state’s proximity to a foreign country as the basis of their foreign policy experience. We can’t hold presidential candidates to any sort of educational standard as it isn’t democratic.

Why should we hold voters to one as well?

Jared: For the record, if you knew anything about me, you would know that I have plenty of plans for Saturday night, involving much more interesting things than reading Obama’s autobiography cover to cover. Playing Mario Kart by myself will be much more fun than that.

If you knew anything about our government in general, you would know that we live in a democratic republic and not a true democracy. Our government works spectacularly when we have great decisions coming from informed citizens with something at stake and poorly when it doesn’t.

Let’s face it, we just don’t have as much at stake in any election as our parents do. How many of our lives are actually going to be affected by the politicalaffiliation of a Supreme Court justice?

How about agricultural subsidies, Tim, are you really “down” for “rocking the vote” so that tomatoes are as cheap on the open market as corn, or are you a normal college student, living and dying with the prices at Chartwells?

Young people have little to gain or lose with their vote so they choose based on frivolities: who looks best in a suit, who would win in a fight or who their favorite celebrity endorses.

Forty-nine percent of eligible voters ages 18-29 turned out for the 2004 election. How many showed up because they were scared of what P. Diddy would do if they didn’t?

The answer, once again, comes back to education. If you don’t feel as if you’re educated enough to cast a meaningful ballot this year, then save your time and read up on the candidates instead. I don’t feel as if I’m educated enough, so I’m sitting this one out — that is responsible democracy in action.

Tim: More like responsible democracy inaction. I bet it’s not the first time that you’ve felt inadequate either, right Jared?

Your argument is sounding more and more like the ones that have been used against Jews, Catholics, African-Americans, poor whites, women, felons and of course, young people, throughout history: “You’re not educated enough. You have no stake in who gets elected.”

Yet you’re still talking about how great our government is and how we should be proud to live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” After all, it’s the very epitome of bravery and freedom to stay at home and let someone else make an important decision for you.

You’re proud to be the black sheep of the herd, yet nobody is coming to you for guidance when the times are tough.

In actuality, you’re the one feeding off of the passion of the young people that are knowledgeable and politically active, those who took the time to improve themselves instead of wasting time on Facebook and MySpace, waiting for something that will never come. Please, come down with a nasty case of incurable Herpes.

For all of the bad raps given to young people for not knowing trivia like the names and favorite books of the senators from Rhode Island, it seems as if no attention is being given to the idiocy that I see coming from middle-aged people during this campaign season. Our generation is known for its tolerance of other cultures, whereas the ones waving stuffed monkeys at John McCain rallies that I’ve seen have all been middle-aged.

On the other side of the coin, how many middle-aged, Democrat union members are going to the voting booth with a sheet of paper listing who their union representatives support, completely oblivious to the people they’re supporting?

Regardless of the result on Election Day, it’s clear that the youth vote will play a pivotal role in its outcome. On average, the youth turnout vote on Super Tuesday was 16 percent, up from 9 percent in 2000, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement. Instead of searching for scapegoats in the hard times that our country is going through, perhaps it is best if we all do our research to the candidates running. Then, once we realize how foolish they really are, use the energy w

e were wasting on insulting each other and make sure those suckers never see another cushy political job in their lifetime.