Voter Apathy: How Do We Combat It?
There was a young guy sitting across from me and he was rolling himself a blunt – and if I have to explain that, you can stop reading. I didn’t stare at him as he was rolling as to not make him uncomfortable for doing something highly illegal in such a public forum. It dawned on me to ask him was he registered to vote. The tension was thick at first because he seemed as if he was already high but as it eased, he did answer me.
“Yeah, I did it because some girl pressed me to do it plus she was cute."
So I asked him, “Do you think you’ll be at the polls this Election Day?"
“Maybe I will and maybe I won’t. I ain’t decided yet - It’s not like it matters, right?"
That’s pretty much where I’m left when trying to reach out to the so-called Hip Hop and Y generation. This same pitiful but understandable apathy existed when I was doing voter registration drives and outreach in 2000. I tried explaining to him the power of his choices, and what we as a nation went through in the late sixties to achieve that right. The uncanny thing is that I can recall having numerous conversations of the same tone in the fall of 2000 with the so-called Gen-X kids (of course, we’re the old heads now). As you can tell, I’ve never been fond of the whole generation titles. I cannot do this again in 4 more years, this constant repeating of myself. I’m going to try and implement new strategies by the time the next election cycle comes around. By then, I’ll be in my mid-thirties and as comfortable as I am with that I hope that apathy’s stronghold on the minds of America’s youth is lessened by the power of information.
As the bus ride nears an end, I give the kid the address to our website as he did say he’s able to get online. I told him that if he ever wants to talk about anything of a political nature to take my e-mail. He did so, although he was as responsive as a snail. I’m hoping that he takes me up on my offer – even if at the end he still finds himself not at all interested in the process. But where do we help them turn the corner and show them that this inaction is precisely what many expect of them? How do we get them to realize they have power in their numbers?
It has become my own personal Rubik’s Cube of sorts – my own frustrating puzzle that I’ve come to almost despise. However, I will not allow this to be a defeat. I believe all of us at MfA and similar organizations are doing the best we can. The only thing we have on our side is the ability to teach and the advent of change.