What to Do About Young Voters Who Feel AbandonedMonday, June 20, 2011
President Obama has a problem: volunteers seem uninterested this time around. That’s startling considering that under-thirty-somethings worked on campaigns at a higher rate than the population at large in 2008 for the first time since 1950. Yet, as The New York Times reported sometime back, the campaign rallies on college campuses that formerly felt like rock concerts are now drawing only a few students.[i]
Is there an explanation for such a development? It seems that young people feel the President is no longer focused on them. Other issues have captured his attention including issues related to older people. One young lady summed it up this way: “He made young people feel important, then he got into office and there was no one talking to us.”
The 2010 midterm election made it clear that the political winds have shifted. Analysts are scurrying to figure out what must be done for their respective parties to regain or at least hold their ground. And, make no mistake, some are telling the Democrats to be sure and focus on certain constituent groups, or else.
Let’s ask this question: is our main concern when it comes to the election of our public officials that they make us feel important? Are we so narcissistic as a people that we can’t vote for a candidate unless he talks to us about, well, us? It sure looks that way.
Isn’t our self-absorption really the problem though? The reality is that a people so wrapped up in themselves and how they feel lose the ability to think, make sound judgments, and see the larger world. A decision-making process driven by feelings, an experience-oriented existence, an existentialist-in-the-moment-worldview, and a political activism guided by a mindset that only embraces those who make us feel important, are genuine threats to the survival of a civil society. A society as we know it can only survive when it’s underpinned by liberty, not for a few, but for all in that society.
That means we have to know how to vote. We must choose government leaders who are committed to liberty and prosperity for everyone, not a select few at the expense of everyone else. The entitlement mentality of “I don’t care about anyone else just give me what’s mine” is that which fuels the current political process of promising the moon to the largest voting blocs, followed by a system of payback to the most powerful lobbying groups once office has been attained. The people, young and old, are left with nothing to do but clamor for the one who promises them the most. That’s the result when the principles of a free and prosperous society are jettisoned. The sad truth is that it will cost us everything in the end.
That’s why the biblical worldview is so critically important. That worldview alone, rooted in Christ’s sacrifice for others, considers others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3). God gives us the right to pursue what we desire but He doesn’t give us the right to demand what we want at the expense of others. What’s the best way to have a civil society? God’s way; it’s the only way that leads to liberty, justice, and the opportunity for prosperity for all. To promote God’s way is to promote a government that protects people from predators and allows them to live in freedom from government intrusion into their lives. Christians don’t care if the President talks to them or makes them feel good. We want a President who will protect us and safeguard our freedom so we can do what God wants us to do with our lives. That same worldview ensures that non-Christians are able to pursue what makes them feel good while we Christians persuade them there is no real joy or peace apart from Christ.
Once again young people are dropping out of the political process for a host of reasons. Perhaps the biggest reason is their own self-centeredness. Of course, older people do the same. There are those who get involved for the very same reason as well. But that’s the rationale that will lead to the undoing of a nation (and a soul for that matter). And yet, that’s where the church steps in; as we promote the ways of God, people come to know Him and receive life in Christ. They also begin to look at things differently; they get a new worldview; one that’s good for civil society; and that worldview makes them feel even better.