Be politically informed and involved, or be quiet

By By Anastasia Niedrich

By Anastasia Niedrich

What do you know about politics affecting your area and your life? Are you involved? If you are between the ages of 18 and 24, the chances are about 50-50 that you’re not.

While many young people are politically involved, informed and vote, according to the majority of surveys, that is not a common reality.

According to a survey of local, state and national party chairpersons conducted by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, “Only 8 percent of the party chairs identified young people as the most important demographic for the ‘long-term success of their party,’ compared to 21 percent who named senior citizens.”

I certainly wasn’t surprised. I think most older people view the youth of America as politically apathetic, uninformed and uninvolved.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data on voting gathered from the 2004 elections, totals from all races that year indicated that only 51.5 percent of men and women aged 18 to 24 registered and voted that year, compared with 69.7 percent of men and women 65 years and older. Our age group had, and has had for some time, the lowest percentage voter turnout of any age group.

Two things talk in politics: money and votes. As an age group, generally we have less money than older age groups do. We also vote less than older age groups. Year after year, many people our age sit on their duffs through election season, fail to vote and then complain about how things are when they don’t like the results.

Registering is almost painless — costing at most one 41 cent postage stamp if you register by mail. You can find out about your elected officials and how to register by going online to Look for upcoming political campaign information and action days at the U in the Fall Semester before the primary and general elections.

This year, the primary elections for Salt Lake City Council and Mayoral races are on Sept. 11. The general elections will be held Nov. 6. That means you have almost two months from now to register to vote, investigate the issues, get involved in a campaign in your area and vote to make a difference.

One person at a time, we can change older people’s perceptions of young people as political do-nothings, while influencing the political direction of our city, state and nation.

Every vote counts — even if you’re a Democrat in Utah.

If we as an age group are going to change things, we need to all get educated. Almost nothing bothers me more than people who are politically ignorant, but then complain about how they don’t like politics — especially members of certain demographic groups, such as women, that had to fight for the right to vote in the first place.

Don’t take the right for granted. You won’t get the effects you want to see unless you are personally working to influence your government.

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