Guest post from Dan, our youth outreach coordinator, urging those in our own generation to rally together and turn out to the polls:
It's no surprise that so many young voters are disillusioned with politics.
Campaigns bombard us with negative ads on television, radio, and now in the 21st century, even Facebook; the media is more focused on reporting candidate gaffes than real political issues; and candidates themselves seem to spend more time practicing "gotcha" politics than directly addressing voters and their many concerns.
I often get very frustrated with the direction of politics today. I've seen so many of Meg Whitman’s anti-Brown ads on television that I've given up on watching live TV (I'm all about DVRing reruns of Law & Order: SVU and The Nanny). I get mad watching so-called political shows on cable news because they more often than not resort to demagogy.
So why I am working on a political campaign as the student and youth outreach coordinator?
Because so many of the issues at hand in this election directly affect me and all young voters. And despite all my misgivings with politics, I still have confidence in its ability to bring people together and usher in change.
I've never been more proud of my generation than when we came out in record numbers during the 2008 election. We voted because we were upset with the direction our country was going in, we were upset with the lack of serious policy dealing with climate change, we were upset with the state of education in America, and we were upset that gays and lesbians were being denied basic civil rights.
Political commentators and pundits doubted that the youth vote could successfully organize and turn out to the polls. Yet we did, allowing us to to put our country on a more progressive path.
I'll never forget celebrating Obama's victory that night. I felt immense pride given that the United States, a country with such a divisive racial past, elected its first African American president. I felt even more proud that an election had brought together young and old, black and white, gay and straight; it highlighted to me that our shared identity as Americans can trump all differences.
It proved to me that we as young people can affect real change.
2008 was only the beginning, though, for the debate over campaign issues from that election is alive and well. The next Governor of California is going to have to deal with AB 32, marriage equality, and UC/CSU budget cuts and fee increases. His or her decisions are going to have a direct impact on the issues of central importance to young voters.
So we must ask ourselves: which candidate has the interests of young voters at heart?
The choice is clear. Jerry Brown has been dedicated to fighting for marriage equality; he's been an advocate for environmentalism since well before many of us were born; he realizes the importance of higher education in ensuring the future of the state. Beyond the isues, Jerry is a politician who has transcended much of the pettiness associated with modern political discourse.
Meg Whitman has gone on the record in opposition to same-sex marriage; she has labeled AB 32 a "job-killer," advocating a one-year moratorium; her commitment to strict spending caps does not bode well for the future of public higher education.
So I make a plea to young voters in California: please get involved. And come out to vote on November 2nd.
Jerry with UC Santa Barbara students in May.