I ask my generation what do we believe about our government, and, are we active participants in government? “Today’s young adults may be the most politically disengaged in American history,” says Halstead of the Atlantic Monthly. It is true; our generation comprised of the last two years of Generation X and all of Generation Y or roughly 30 million Americans, seriously lacks being politically or civically engaged.However, this presidential election has sparked participation among our generation, but it exists in a mere bandwagon form at best. We protest the war in Iraq. We bash President Bush. But do we pay attention to what Congress and the Supreme Court do? For that matter, how many of us know what the jobs of Congress and the Supreme Court are? Who comprises it? Do we at least know who our representatives in Congress are?
Any form of getting involved is great, but don’t stop there. Write your representative, listen to political news, or get involved in a campaign. I find it very alarming that more people (most of which are in our generation) voted for “American Idol” than they did in the 2000 election. Granted, a little over a third were under 18, that is still about 10 million compared to the total of seven million that voted during the 2000 election.
Our generation has a weak allegiance to political parties, and we have even less trust in government. We are materialistic due to the inward turn of economic insecurity of the future. We see politics as a corrupt system. We are individualistic in that we have little contact with others. This is partially our fault and partially a symptom of living in a promotional and technological culture, as well as being a product of a failing education system. Alexis de Tocqueville says, “To isolate people from one another, weakening the communal bonds that give meaning and force to notions of national identity and the common good is dangerous.”
Our generation is haunted by an array of daunting woes. At the current rate of government spending and the shortage of workers in the future to replace our parents’ generation, a fiscal hell is on the horizon. The national debt that has been created for various reasons, and personal debt that we have accumulated is frightening. Our generation faces a great peril; we must reconcile now to have any fiscal future.
Social Security, as of now, does not exist for our generation’s retirement; a system that we have paid into for years now and more to come will no longer exist at its present progression. We also face a environmental debt that cannot be repaid; the rate of natural resources and ecosystems usage is alarming now. I don’t want to imagine the future at its present rate of destruction. Pollution and global warming will become more of an issue as the years go by. We must make changes in polices so that our country and world does not become a wasteland.
Socially, our generation has made some great strides, but in other countries others have reverted back to a more hatred state. Our generation must continue to champion social and cultural acceptance.
We did not start the fire, but some day we will be in a position of power to stop it from spreading. Today is Pennsylvania’s primary. Go and vote if you can, after all, your vote is your voice, and this is your America.
Jason Maleski is a senior majoring in Literature.