Wednesday, April 02, 2008

We've Only Just Begun

I hope, later this year, American 18-20 year olds participate in the democratic process in larger numbers than they have since the end of the Vietnam War. The 26th Amendment, passed on July 1, 1971, gives them that right:

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

But the end of the Draft in 1973 was part of the Nixon Administration's deliberate strategy: Take away the draft and knock out pesky draft-age anti-war protesters and their supporters and get on with an all-volunteer military. As evidenced by lacklustre youth involvement during the Bush years and the Iraq War, Nixon's approach seems to have achieved its desired result long after he resigned from the presidency.

From what I've seen anecdotally, at least there's a chance in a McCain vs. Obama or Clinton lineup that the youth vote will awaken from its slumber. But who knows? Maybe it would take a McCain presidency to finally wake them up . . .

According to "Youth & Adult Voter Turnout From 1972-2002" by Mark Hugo Lopez & Carrie Donovan (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement):

"Since 1972, the first presidential election when 18-20 year olds were eligible to vote, youth voter turnout has declined. For 18-24 year old citizens, turnout has declined by 13 percentage points from 55% in 1972 to 42% in 2000."

Back in 1973, not only did the Draft end in the USA, not only could 18-20 year olds vote, but Southwest Airlines introduced some interesting uniforms for their stewardesses (aka flight attendants). And the world has never been the same since . . .

Happy Birthday and RIP, Marvin Gaye. What's Going On was released in 1971.

Pictured at top: Karen Carpenter and Richard Carpenter (i.e. The Carpenters) with President Richard Nixon, August 1972. US National Archives.

Today's Rune: Defense.


Anonymous said...

Yeah just think about it, Wally. In 17 years those 18-year-olds would actually be of age to run for the office of president!--Beaver Cleaver

Charles Gramlich said...

Perhaps because Xavier is primarily African American, we don't have much problem with youth voter apathy here.

Pythia3 said...

I remember the first time I could vote - it was held at my old elementary school - I'll never forget it.
I agree, the younger generation 18-20 is not involved with world events. I see it with my 18 year old son, Luke, and his friends. I think they are in a depression and have all but given up on the world and the future. Most of them can't find a decent job - even after attaining a degree.
Luke was a baby when the Gulf War began...he has never really seen peace, prosperous times...he grew up with the negativity of rap lyrics describing disparity, poverty, rape, war. He grew up with 911 and the aftermath. His generation seemed to sit back and listen to the negativity and they have not figured out yet that they have the power to bring about CHANGE. They grew up as victims of a terrifying world. They feel their freedoms have been taken away.
I do hope and pray they grow into their power - voting would be the first step in feeling that power and responsibility.
I have one son, Adam, who I am sure was a founding father of this country in his last life! And one son, Luke, who would swim across the river if it came to that - he feels his freedoms have robbed and ripped off by the government and he is deeply against war. He hasn't a judgmental or violent bone in his body - I have never heard even the slightest judgment come out of his mouth. Whereas Adam is a walking opinion. He makes a lot of valid points and he is very educated and updated in politics - both domestic and foreign affairs. He feels blessed to have been born here and any sacrifice is a necessary sacrifice to keep America great. I get a front row seat when the two of them converse. (or rather when Adam debates and Luke converses)
Lindy :)
PS I cut my bangs after seeing Karen Carpenter sing on TV! I loved their music - still do - brings back many memories like attending my older cousins' weddings (wearing my maxi dress) and sneaking seven-and-sevens from behind the bar at the VFW where another cousin acted as bartender!...back in the days when alcohol and cigarettes were cool. LOL Thanks GOD I never smoked, though :)

Lana Gramlich said...

I think the only thing that might wake up today's youth would be to tear them away from TV & video games for a few months. Reminds me of a Simpsons episode in which, after their favorite TV show goes off the air for a while, all of the children step, blinking, out into the light. They laugh & play together under rainbow skies, until the TV show comes back on & it's back inside for everyone. There's something frighteningly true about that whole scenario.

Erik Donald France said...

Wow- awesome! Thanks all for the coments -- much appreciated!