Too Young to Vote

A small portrait of the translator

February 20, 2008 @ 16:11 UTC

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Countries:
none
Candidates:
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul
Issues:
Education, Media & Internet, Government & Politics
 

Although Voices without Votes aims to cover the international perspective on the U.S. elections, non-citizens aren't the only ones without a vote. American youth, that is, those under the voting age of 18, are also voteless - but not voiceless! Here is a smattering of what American youth (and their parents) have to say about the primaries, the candidates, and the upcoming nominations.

It seems that U.S. teenagers, at least those who blog, are heavily in support of Obama. n burke, a young U.S. citizen who lives in Ireland, backs Obama:

I have to say I wasn't very sure at the start, but Mr. Barrack Obama will be very happy to note that this blog is backing him all the way to the White House. It is a little known fact that yours truly is an American citizen, although I'm too young to vote, I would be voting for this great, great man had I a few more years of age.

Olivia of The Daily Love is also a young Obama supporter:

…Truthfully, I can't say I like everything about him, like I really wish he supported universal healthcare. So I wouldn't be too devastated if Hillary won. Either one of them would be better than the current administration, obviously. I liked Edwards better than Obama and Clinton, and Kucinich better than all of them…

Zara of Art 2008 agrees that Obama is the candidate for her:

On an unrelated note. I am really starting to like something about myself. I really like that I am developing a difference of opinion politically from my parents. I mean im not straying to far but I like that I am thinking for myself. If I could vote right now I think that It would be for Barak Obama. He seems to really know his shit. But not to much you know. Like its time for something new and I am really starting to think that he is it. Plus the music video that made one of his speaches into a song is really amazing.

While there are few youth bloggers talking about other candidates, some are simply concerned with their lack of a vote. On one message board, the question “Who would you vote for?” drew a bevy of youth. A sample of answers from the under-18 crowd:

If i was American and old enough to vote i would vote Barack Obama, I just think you guys need to stop worrying about every one elses problems and Obama seems to understand this and he seems to want to be president for the right reasons.

Ron Paul would make a great president, but he's never going to win the republican vote. I would personally vote for Barack Obama though.

If I was of age to vote, I would vote for Ron Paul.

It isn't just American youth who are blogging about their interest in politics - parents have noticed it too. The Parenting Online reports that children are especially involved in this year's elections:

We already know young voters are showing interest and passion in this 2008 race. What many adults are noticing, though, is that such passion is also infecting much of the too-young-to-vote set, from teens on down, in ways rarely seen before.And perhaps the Obama campaign should look into getting that pesky voting-age thing changed. Because, maybe not surprisingly, the youthful Illinois senator who’s energized enormous crowds of young voters seems to have the affection of the much-younger crowd, too — at least in Democratic households.”I’ve noticed a very, very strong interest on the part of supporters of Barack Obama,” says school director Elizabeth Bergstein. “One kid’s been campaigning for Obama for weeks.” And she’s really talking young: The students at her Broadway Presbyterian Church Nursery School, just south of Harlem in Manhattan, are three and four.Kids at her school, she says, “are very engaged in it. Some wear stickers or pins. Or they’ll shout, ‘Obama!”

Benidt of The Same Rowdy Crowd has noticed the phenomenon as well:

Our almost-17-year-old niece Ally just called Lisa and me into her bedroom — “You’ve got to see this.”

It’s an Obama music video — “Yes we can.”

How does Hillary Clinton or John McCain contend with this? How can they come close to moving young people (and 57-year-old people) this way?

Ally is too young to vote, but she’s cajoled six people around the country to vote for Obama in the primaries.

Something’s happening here.

Goodyblog remarks on how children have become so involved as to join their parents in the voting booth:

And while their votes don't count, kids are making their voices heard. They are asking to go in the voting booth with Mommy or Daddy, both to share in the experience and to make sure M and D vote for the right person (for the record, Matthew decided on a candidate well before I chose mine, which didn't happen until the day before the primary).

Interestingly enough, the youth interest in politics goes beyond kids or even their parents - some of the candidates have their own campaign materials for kids! The Kids for Obama page has suggestions for how kids 12 and under can get involved in the democratic process, and the Kids for Obama blog is endorsed by the founder of Kids for Kerry. The Conservative Kids blog is in support of Mike Huckabee, and an online shop sells I Heart Huckabee onesies and t-shirts in youth sizes. McCain takes it to a whole new level - his daughter runs the McCainBlogette, which appeals strongly to youth. Noticeably absent, of course, is Hillary Clinton, for whom I found no youth sites, affiliated with her campaign or otherwise.

No matter who the youngster is, he or she will likely be voting in four to 12 years, so it certainly makes sense for candidates such as Obama (who is young enough that, even if he loses this time, he has plenty more chances) to appeal to the underage crowd. And those candidates who choose not to? Chances are, they'll be missing out on quite a few votes should they run in the future.

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