Age is nothing but a number: Youth vote matters, too



Legislators, media heads and community leaders constantly tout our generation as the generation that will have to pay for the mounting debt our nation is taking on.

When they talk about entitlements, you frequently hear quips such as, “our kids won’t see Social Security” or “these programs won’t be here for our children.” There is no spin on it.

There is no right or left to the fact that these programs are growing at an unprecedented rate and have the potential to present our generation with massive deficits in state governments, and even larger deficits on the national level. The question for so many Millennials is, “Why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?”

We are currently on track to become the most educated generation that will likely have to deal with the most over-regulated private sector and job-crippling tax burden if we do not do something about these crises now. As the most diverse generation in the history of America, our differences and opinions will vary more than any other.

However, the entitlement issues we face are inevitably something our generation will come together on. For those in power, it’s time to listen.

Facing national elections every two years and a presidential election every four years, it seems the campaigning never ends. Our generation currently stands as the most unemployed group of people in the nation. This is a generational crisis.

When an official takes a stance on entitlements, the accusations from opponents in their elections and members from the other party start flying.

It has become so bad that after the Republicans took back the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, there was a proposal to President Barack Obama from Speaker of the House John Boehner that if he would take on entitlements with them, it wouldn’t be used against members during the election.

Politicians understand the problem. They also understand one major factor: the elderly vote. They understand that these baby boomers are retiring and they vote.

Well, I have news, we vote, too.

Pew Research points out that after four decades of low voter turnout, 2008 showed the turnout gap between voters younger and older than the age of 30 was the smallest it’s ever been.

In 2008, 23 million young adults voted. A Rutgers study on Millennials found that in just three short years, by 2015, our generation ages 18 to 38 will comprise nearly one third of the electorate.

With social media running through our veins, we can get the word out quicker and more efficiently than any generation to have walked this earth.

It’s time for our leaders to take on the growing burden facing our generation. It’s also time for our generation to continue to be engaged and support young leaders who understand us better.

In 2010, Kentucky elected three new State House members under the age of 30.

People like Illinois congressman Aaron Schock, who entered the life of public service after having a discrepancy with his school board at the age of 18 and ended up in Congress by his mid-20s, stand as a model leader for this generation.

The Congressional Research Service reported in 2010 that Senators of the 111th Congress had an averaged 63.1 years of age. That’s 1.5 years older than the 110th and three years older than the 109th.

Accordingly, House members of the 111th congress had an average age 57.2 years of age. That’s 1.3 years older than the 110th and 2.2 years older than the 109th.

This trend is alarming. It’s time to replace the folks who won’t take a stand for our generation with folks who will.

I’m not saying we should throw the elderly off cliffs, like some rhetoric suggests, but I am saying our voice should be heard more.

Our vote counts just as much as the elderly — and one day we’ll have to make decisions on their retirements.