Michael Westerman, IV Leader Editor-in-chief

In the midst of the noise and excitement that is political season, it is hard for anyone to sift through the media-fueled rhetoric and slanderous campaigning between the slew of candidates and see which ones are capable of governing and not just politicking.

The noise has been especially loud this presidential election with the many diverse candidates for many different reasons.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump lands a sound bite on every issue which spreads across the media like the newest results of America’s favorite reality TV show, and his opinions are often outrageous enough to be heard on an episode of true life.

On the flip side, Democrat Bernie Sanders has been making noise by his private small sum donations that have funded the majority of his campaign rather than the typical super-pacs that bankroll the majority of the 2015 candidates, including the woman beating Sanders in the polls: Hilary Clinton.

This presidential race carries very colorful storylines from a big business candidate (Trump) versus “the working class” candidate (Sanders) to the renewed legacies of presidential past in Clinton and Jeb Bush. It seems there is enough noise to get anyone interested in picking a candidate, but will that be the case when the polls actually open for the primaries and the general election? More specifically, will the underrepresented younger generation turn out to vote?

According to CIRCLE’s website, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, only 21.5 percent of people 18-29 voted in the 2014 midterm elections which has decreased from the 2012 general election at 45 percent.

Why do so many young people choose not to vote even though, in many cases, the policies passed by government affect the young demographic greater than any other? Are young people uninformed or just uninterested? Politics is nothing new, a game where the rules haven’t changed; do whatever it takes to win regardless of the rules. What has changed, however, is the media’s ability to cover politics and deliver it to their audience.
Every year society’s connection through TV and social media becomes larger and faster.

Today, it would be hard pressed to not receive the latest on any candidate’s recent endeavors or see the most recent slander ad. Most 20-somethings know this era of instant gratification mixed with product placement more than anyone else. This type of connection sounds like an answer to political prayers by candidates who can now advertise their product with great turnaround speed, but it has not turned out as a positive in influencing young people’s minds or turning them on to voting.

What do young people think of the American government or the political process? What train of thought says the best option is to stay out of it? How can so many young people not believe in the power of their vote and the influence young voter turnout could have on an election?

Well if seeing is believing, then “staying out of it” could be solid logic for many of those 20-somethings. Today’s adolescents have been raised in the golden age of TV and the never ending progression of the world wide web where everything is visible and nothing is off limits in gaining the power of attention. Never before has a generation been so connected to the fascists of society from government to business to plain social interests.

The power of instant information can open a person up to endless knowledge but can also bind them to their many mediums by the thirst for more.This deceptively blissful cycle leaves anyone vulnerable to the salesmen who sell both the tangible and the intangible. Businessmen and politicians sell ideas for you to buy; it is their job to convince you that what they offer can improve your life, scratch that, will improve your life. This bombardment is heightened in political season as campaign teams and super-pacs fund ads of slander against the competition.We watch proctors ask questions about major issues in debates and more than often we hear candidates evade behind rhetoric and fulfilling sounding answers that never satisfy the question. Perhaps today’s youth isn’t sold on the products of politics and policy, for every time the youth has bought in, they have only seen bad results and broken promises.

The past decade has been full of war, financial crisis, and government shutdowns publicized across all the major news networks. These stories are labeled and dramatized to attract the biggest audience. This is followed by the climax, in which the news anchor demands accountability and doesn’t stop until someone is held responsible.

The media talks of struggle and tragedy, blame and repercussions, but seldom do they talk of progress or accomplishment, especially in politics — perhaps it doesn’t sell. For young people this has been the only operating government they know and the only type of politics they have seen played. I think young people see congress value pride and personal advancement more than cooperation for the betterment of the American people. They see politicians value winning more than their own ideals. They see hypocrisy and failure more than anything else.

Many young people do not vote because they do not believe in the system that encourages them to. With all the fighting for individual power and influence, young people do not believe their one vote can make a difference. Sometimes the nature of an adolescent is to be stubborn to things that do not make sense or things they do not agree with. Although it is easy to blame a struggling system and deny responsibility as one part of the whole, it also makes you one part of the problem. Sure, government and politics are not as they should be, but whom better to create change than the generation next in line to inherit this democracy and inherit the power to make change.

It is time for young people to step up and take charge against this culture of fast politics and slow government. The truth is there is no group in a better position to sift through all the salesmen and by products of politics and get back to valuing ideals and altruistic governing.