Saulny, Susan. “Struggling Young Adults Pose Challenge for Campaigns,” NY Times, Sept. 19, 2012.
Saulny’s NY Times article highlights an often under looked, but potentially powerful voting block: the young and disenfranchised. While both political parties court an audience with highly educated, politically active college students, little effort has been made to connect with a different cross-section of American youth: the underemployed or jobless with less formal education. Right now, 18 million adults, roughly 40 percent of eligible voters between 18 to 29 do not have college degrees.
Often, these Americans face discouraging circumstances, and are potentially eager to embrace a political party that addresses their needs. Saulny notes that the common complaint expressed by these potential voters is that “their concerns are neglected” by mainline politics. According to Saulny, Mitt Romney’s recent comments about the 47% illustrate the fact that these citizens do not figure largely in his political campaign. Romney later clarified his comments.
Neither party, as far as these citizens are concerned, has focused much attention on them. While they may seem indifferent, many of these young working-class Americans are “highly persuadable.” In fact, when they are specifically asked to participate in civic involvement, participation increases.
Saulny includes quotes from a wide array of young people struggling economically. He interviews college drop outs, stockroom workers, minimum wage earners, and those collecting underemployment benefits. Attitudes towards politics were just as diverse. Some believed that the president has the power and influence to help them, while others were unsure who to blame for their situation.
And this isn’t restricted to Americans who didn’t attend college. Half of all Americans under the age of 25 with college degrees “are either unemployed or employed in jobs that aren’t commensurate with their degree.”
How, and if, young Americans decide to vote can swing the November elections one way or the other.
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