November 4, 2008

America's Youth: Rocking the Vote

by Liz Marjollet

Although it is usually thought that the youth vote is severely underrepresented in elections, I would beg to differ in this election. Youths are definitely becoming more involved in the democratic process. For example, as a college student, I spend my days on Facebook and my nights watching shows such as Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report, along with studying. Facebook has been advertising the election like crazy, with the ability to give your friends free pins endorsing either the Democratic or Republican candidates. Also, many people have been "donating their statuses" to one of the two candidates.

Much of the youth are also more excited about their ability to vote, especially with this election. The historical ramifications alone are reason to want to get involved. Either America's first black president will be elected into office, or Sen. John McCain may have the possibility of a big upset; not to mention McCain's running mate Gov. Sarah Palin, who would be the first woman in the number two position. As well, there has been more fuss over exercising one's right to vote. It gives power to the people, who take their responsibilities seriously.

The media have also used the election as an advertising point to great extremes. For example, Starbucks, McDonald's and Ben and Jerry's have all promised free product with a patron's sticker testifying that they voted. As well, the election has been the lead news story for weeks, if not months. Last night, SNL ran a special two hour program because of the elections. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report both have been poking fun at the candidates and the election in general for weeks. Even now, on my Yahoo! page, there is a poll asking if I voted, and there's an ad for Dodge Rams, with a blue truck and a red truck attached by a chain and facing each other with an American flag backdrop, stating, "Pick your ram. Click to Vote." Google's homepage is creative as usual, with all the letters covered by curtains, as if they were voting, and the second "g" has a "vote" pin on it.

Along with the internet, radio and television have also been a huge part of the hype. Radio stations spend their time reserved for talking discussing the elections. Television is also flooded with the ads put out by both campaigns. Because the election is now able to be everywhere, young people cannot feign ignorance about the issues both campaigns discuss, because no matter the medium, the issues are discussed, whether in serious or satirical terms. The current state of foreign and domestic policy, along with the economic crisis, only add to the list of reasons that youth voters need to get to the polls. But I have a feeling much of the youth already did.

(Graphic by Shep Fairey for ObeyGiant. To see a joint announcement about voting from Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report, please check below.)

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