Before the age of the Internet, and the ease of access to information about candidates running for office other than the mainstream media, younger voters were not courted very hard by politicians, who figured rightly that they would never show up at the polls. There are several schools of thought as to why it has been that way for so long, but conventional wisdom told the politicos that only the well informed voter would actually be there to pull the lever, and that younger voters tended to not read the news.
Not so any more. If the 2008 primary season is any indication at all, then the general election will see the largest turnout of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 than any other election in our nation's history. Numbers compiled by Rock The Vote, The Center For Information And Research On Civic Learning And Engagement, And Direct Democracy show that youthful voters nearly doubled in turnout for the 2008 primaries when compared to 2004.
Texas saw the largest overall increase percentage wise, jumping a full 301% in young voter turnout rate, Tennessee came in second at 209%, with Connecticut showing 163% increases in turnout. Many other states saw triple digit increases, such as New York, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Georgia and Iowa. It's expected that the numbers will be pretty much the same come this November.
If the trends, exit polls, and numbers add up correctly, and younger voters show up at the polls once again, there could be a landslide of historical proportions in the making. An under the radar mass exodus to the left, courtesy of the youth of America. For in the primaries themselves, only Arkansas, Connecticut, and Oklahoma saw higher percentages of young Republican turnout than Democrats. In Arkansas and Connecticut, the differential was 1%, while Oklahoma showed a substantial 6 point separation. Some speculate that the higher Republican voter turnout among younger Americans was due to the candidacy of Ron Paul, who appealed to the desire for a different direction.
What does all of these confusing and sometimes garbled jumble of numbers mean? Simply that because of sites like MySpace and Facebook, HeadCount and YouTube, young voters have instant access to information on all of the candidates, more so than could ever be gleaned from the pages of mainstream media. If McCain slips and says something dumb, it's all over the web within an hour. Obama gives a rousing speech and everyone across the country can see and hear the entire thing almost immediately. With social networking, and the desire for change, America is seeing the same exact marches on Washington that occurred during the Vietnam war. Only the marches and the calls to action take place in cyber space now, and woe to any politician that hasn't gotten that through their heads yet.
America's youth will shape the future, in fact they already are. But unlike days of old, when one was impressed by million person sit ins in front of the White House, today's protests and today's sit ins occur under the radar, in unseen chat rooms and message boards, where the young are planning how to change the country for the better. They exhort each other to get to the polls, they discuss the same issues that older voters talk about, and suddenly, as older Americans become jaded about what's going on, America's youth is about to show up and make a stand.
A stand for democracy. A stand for change. A stand for decency and respect. And a stand for caring about our fellow citizens, no matter their color, creed, gender, or lack of blue blood pedigree. Oh yes, some of us gleefully await the arrival of November, because the youth of the nation is about to rock not only the vote, but shock the world in their overwhelming condemnation of the past decade's abuses of power, and the last three decades of the march towards fascism. The political pundits don't have a clue as to what they're talking about, and the candidates would serve themselves well to take a good hard look at the primary results and the ongoing voter revolution taking place in invisible cyber space.