Kirsten Andersen


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A Note to All of You Virgins….
Bombs Away  

Some people await the day with eagerness, watching and preparing for the moment when they will finally get their chance.  Others let the day go by unnoticed, filling their lives with things which seem more important at the time, or at the very least, more fun.  Still others feel a kind of dread, sort of like the day before a big test in college, one that you KNOW you aren’t prepared for.  Everyone else—well, they are who I am writing to today.

The day I am referring to is your first time…the day you lose your voting virginity.  This year, there are over 13 million people who are eligible to vote in their first presidential election.  Sadly, most of them won’t even register.  For those who will show up to the polls, it will be a hard choice, because young voters are in a demographic that gets almost no attention from politicians, and therefore no targeted information.

Not only are there 13 million eligible ‘virgins’ out there; this election also marks the first time that all 46 million members of the infamous Generation X are eligible to vote.  Definitions of ‘X’ vary, but the most commonly used guideline is that Gen-X encompasses all those people born between 1961 and 1981.  Other definitions vary slightly, but by all standards, this is the first time Generation X has a chance to vote as a true block.

Of course, being Generation X, we will not even vote as a clique, let alone a block.  We can’t agree on pizza toppings (meat lovers’ or strictly vegan?); why would we agree on taxes, health care, or abortion?  The disadvantage to being part of a diverse generation is that you can’t agree on what to fight for.

When our parents were our age, they had two major factions—those who wanted the Vietnam War to end at any cost, and those who supported our troops there (though they may not have supported our presence).  The two groups voted differently, but they were large enough (these are the Baby Boomers we’re talking about) that they received major attention from candidates and media alike. 

If we had an issue of our own, we might have that same political power.  Unfortunately, we are a pretty complacent bunch.  As a whole, we are either contentedly spoiled with no incentive to change, or too stressed out paying the bills to worry about ‘issues’.  There are exceptions, as with any rule, but the exceptions are too few and far between to be heard, and (surprise) they don’t agree with each other anyway.

If I sound like I’ve given up on our generation, rest assured that I have not.  All we need is a little motivation, a little rocking of the boat.  Those of you who work, have you taken a look at your pay stub lately?  How big is the chunk going toward Social Security?  Ridiculous, isn’t it? 

What if I told you that Al Gore supports Social Security in its current form, with the only new source of revenue being your tax dollars?  That means that either you continue paying what you pay now and get nothing back in the future, or you pay even more every month and maybe get a little something to survive on later.  What if you could invest that money yourself, either in a conservative mutual fund or in the high-return stock market?  Whatever you make is yours to keep, pass on to your children, donate to charity, etc., but even if you lose it all, there is a safety net; a minimum guaranteed entitlement to sustain you in your later years.  That doesn’t have to be a fantasy; that is George W. Bush’s Social Security plan. 

A lot of us are either newly married or seriously considering taking the plunge.  Even those of us who see marriage as a very distant possibility would like to know that we will not be punished should we make that choice.  Al Gore opposed the repeal of the marriage tax penalty; George Bush supported it.  That is the bottom line.  As hard as it is to find true love in this day and age, do you really want an added obstacle on your way to the altar?

Many young people, especially those who are of the X Generation, want to be seen as progressive and open-minded.  ‘Conservative’ has become something of a dirty word among twenty and thirty-somethings who consider themselves ‘enlightened’.  Somehow, the word ‘Republican’ has been inextricably linked to the word ‘conservative, likewise ‘Democrat’ to ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’.  The irony of this presidential election is that the roles have been reversed whether we admit it or not.  By definition, Al Gore is the conservative in this race.  If you visit News @, you will see that Al Gore supports the current policy on everything from the death penalty to abortion to school choice.  Al Gore is the candidate of the status quo.

By contrast, the same site will show you that George W. Bush is the candidate of change and innovative ideas.  He wants to take the policies that do not work, and instead of throwing more of our money at them to shore them up for a few more years (read: until re-election), he wants those programs streamlined and renovated to spend less while accomplishing more for the people.

I urge you all, Gen-X and Y alike, to find your cause and fight for it.  Maybe we will never agree on some things (like which pizza to order), but there are surely those issues that affect us all.  Talk to each other, do your research, and pull the lever on November 8th with the knowledge that, maybe for the first time, you are a part of something larger than yourself.

© Kirsten Andersen, 2024

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