Elders are the largest voting bloc by age in the country. I suppose retired people have more time to get to the polls and we are likely to be more serious about taking part in this aspect of democracy.
Although much was made during the 2008 campaign about young voters' participation, particularly in support of Barack Obama, this year – well, not so much.
John Della Volpe, who is director of polling at Harvard University's Institute of Politics, reports that
“[M]ore than 70 percent of young voters tell us they are not sure that they will vote in the upcoming midterm elections. In fact, as the election has drawn nearer, our tracking numbers over the last year indicate that Millennials aged 18 to 29 are less - not more - likely to vote; less than one-in-five tell us that they are politically engaged.”
Another poll, reported by CBS News, tells us:
“Of those between the ages of 18 and 29 who voted for President Obama in 2008, 85 percent approve of the job he's doing. But only 44 percent say they definitely plan to vote in the midterm elections.”
The thing about voting is, you don't get to complain about what government is doing if you don't vote, and there is plenty to complain about these days in our ongoing post-recession recession that will not stop, whichever party controls the houses of Congress after 2 November.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, comedian Sarah Silverman created The Great Schlep, a video urging young people to travel to Florida to convince their grandparents to vote for Barack Obama. The video, still on YouTube, is profane and otherwise in questionable taste, but it has given me an idea for us:
How about The Great Elder Email Schlep?
You don't need to travel to Florida or anywhere else; email and the telephone will work just fine. The idea is to convince your grandchildren, nieces and nephews in that 18 to 29 age range to get out and vote.
Talk to them about the responsibility of citizens in a democracy to vote. Track down online information about contests in their states and send links. Find the polling places for their homes and send the addresses.
It's not wrong to be partisan about it. If your grandkid lives in Alaska, send some information about Lisa Murkowski and Scott McAdams because, if you only hear or see mainstream media, you wouldn't know they are the people running against Teabagger Joe Miller.
If your nieces and nephews live in Minnesota, Delaware, Nevada and other states with heavy Tea Party support, send those lunatic quotations from Michele Bachmann, Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle and the rest of them – there are plenty to go around. And if you've got a blog, post your own story about The Great Elder Email Schlep, get your readers to do the same and pass it on to their readers.
Make a nuisance of yourself for the next week until the election with those young, potential voters. If you have Twitter and Facebook accounts, use them too. Pull out all the stops. Let them know how disappointed grandma or grandpa will be in them if they don't vote.
You might also send along the link to this video:
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Helen: Story Time