Youth in politics could be key


Editorial Board

The Issue:

In the past, the youth of this country have been apathetic in the world of politics, and their involvement has been elusive.

Our View:

With a monumental presidential election upon us and multiple youths running for office, it is time for a great awakening.

In past elections, the majority of youths in this country seemed to be completely apathetic towards anything political. They turned out to the polls in dismal numbers, and participating in campaigns or being involved in politics appeared to be the farthest thing from their minds.

According to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement’s (CIRCLE) Web site, in the midterm election of 2002, only 22 percent – less than a quarter – of this country’s 18- to 29-year-olds voted.

Not only is this a problem for our country, but for our state as well. In 2002, South Dakota had the second highest level of youth turnout in the nation with 36 percent, but that was shameful in comparison to the state’s 75 percent turnout of voters age 30 and older. Then, in the presidential election year of 2004, South Dakota youth turnout fell to 26th overall in the country.

Now is the time for all these disappointing statistics to disappear and the awakening to begin.

This year, every single voter, both young and old, has the awesome opportunity to participate in a monumental presidential election, but the youth vote could be what propels one candidate into office. The country has already seen a record number of under 30-year-olds vote so far in this election, but there is always room for improvement. After the 2008 election, this country will begin on a new path, and youth voters need to cast their votes in order to guide that new direction.

Not only is voting important, but getting involved is equally important. Now is also a perfect time to get involved, as three former SDSU students are running for the South Dakota Legislature.

Imagine what could happen if any one of these three was elected. Since these three still have the optimism and idealism of youth, they truly believe they can make a change in the world and could very well make a difference in our state. These candidates are talking about such issues as education, health care and economic development, and maybe their fresh ideas and their understanding of the changing world are just what this state needs to bring about real change in these areas.

Not only could they change the system, but these candidates could also change the people around them. The energy and new ideas of these candidates may reconnect our legislators, who are mostly seasoned incumbents, with the opinions of today’s youth. Their position in office could also keep the youth of this state interested in politics beyond this high-profile presidential election and maybe even inspire other younger candidates to run for office. All of these will help the voice of our generation be heard within our state.

We definitely have ample opportunities to voice our opinion this year, and no matter if it is the presidential election or the state election, the time is now for the youth of today to throw off its political apathy of the past. It is time for a youth awakening.