We Do Not Xactly Care About the Government
What is the point of the government? This is a question I often ask myself. I am a member of Generation X, or so I’ve been labeled since I was born in 1981. I have been labeled as lazy, irresponsible, and apathetic. One of those words applies to me right now, and that is my apathy toward the government. At this time in my life it does not matter what happens in the government, it will continue to run without my input. Perhaps our indifference toward the government is one of the many “problems” with my generation.
There are many reasons why young people do not vote, or get involved in political actions. They range from apathy to just plain not having enough time. One of the larger reasons is that most candidates are much older then those 18-25. Generation X has lead a different life style since birth then those of older generations. We like different music, different movies, there is not much we have in common. Generation X has grown up in a world of money and quickly changing technology. In order to be the President of the United States of America, one must be thirty-five years old. Automatically that is at least a ten-year age difference between the two groups. There is an ever growing generation gap between candidates and youthful voters. In the case of the 1996 Presidential election, Bob Dole was in his seventies, my grandfather is not even seventy. Bob Dole and many other candidates in recent and past years have had trouble relating to Generation X and vice versa.
Another reason why Xers are turning away from the government is lack of political education. The last of the Generation Xers will be entering college in the 2000-2001 school year, to most of us college is much more important then politics. I know if I had the option of watching a presidential debate or studying, I would opt for the studying. At this point in my life getting good grades is a lot more important then knowing what is going on in the political world. College students also feel isolated from the outside world. Sure one can watch the news, but it is not the same as at home. At home many parents watch the 5:30 news when they get home from work. However, if it was up to a Generation Xer to pick what to watch at 5:30, it would probably be MTV or VH1. Parents are also more likely then a college student to buy the newspaper every day. The lifestyles of Generation Xers do not allow for everyday exposure to politics.
The few students who take the time to get involved in politics and educate themselves, are faced with yet another problem. Students find many major political candidates have paid little, if any, attention to the issues that affect young people the most. Maybe these older candidates do not think “kids” can make a difference in political elections, but they are wrong. Elections have been won or lost due to the support of younger voters. In 1992, 50% of registered voters under the age of 30 turned out to vote. In that election, Bill Clinton received fifty percent of the less than 30 votes (Bush received thirty percent, Perot twenty percent). Clinton’s twenty percent margin of victory in the young persons vote was his largest in any age group and may have very well put him in the White House.
The biggest issues which affect younger voters are those issues that deal directly with them such as money. Most college students are concerned with some sort of financial aid such as student loans, tax cuts, social security, minimum wage and Federal Pell Grants. Other issues which interest young people are birth control, AIDS, and helping out the environment. If a political candidate would show the littlest interest in young voters, they could very easily gain their support and perhaps their vote. For example, Bill Clinton stopped at many colleges and talked about issues concerning college students. He attacked Bob Doles lack of support for Federal Pell Grants. Therefore, Clinton easily gained the support of many college students. Generation X has always looked for some politician, any politician, to pay the least little bit of attention to them.
Being payed attention to by political candidates also brings up another issue. Since the littlest sign of interest by a candidate can easily hook a young voter, is this all the support they will ever be shown? I will always wonder if candidates are genuinely concerned about issues that concern me or will they only appear to be concerned on the surface to gain my vote?
To my generation, Generation X, the government is viewed as deceiving. We have never felt like we could really trust the government. Watergate, Whitewater, and more recently, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, have all given my generation a reason not to trust the government. President Clinton lied to the entire country about Monica Lewinsky, why should anyone trust him to run the government? What else is he lying to the American people about? I do not want to take part in an institution who regularly lies to the people who trust the government most. By the time the government is in my generation’s hand, we will be left with a huge national debt, and we will probably never see half of the money we have put into social security. Is my one vote really going to change this huge establishment that runs our country? I think this is how many Generation Xers feel. Can I really make a difference?
However, there is hope for our apathetic Generation X. We are more involved in different organizations such as SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving), The Sierra Club, and Republican or Democratic Clubs. Just the other day I received an E-mail requesting my presence at a meeting for the Republican’s club. Two days later I received another E-mail for a Democratic group. There are a few students interested in government and hopefully their interest will rub off. Who knows, maybe Generation X will be the generation to change what is wrong in government today. As a part of Generation X I can only hope that we can make the necessary changes to the government and leave our children with more to work with then we have right now.
Works Not Cited
Brown, Steve. “Generation X: Deficit, Debt and Entitlements.” http://www.cc.colorado.edu/Dept/EC/generationx965/genx/genx1.html (20 Oct. 1999)
Cheslog, Craig. “A Concord Coalition Backgrounder: Listen Up, Generation X.” http://members.aol.com/genxcaol/info-48.htm
Nelson, Rob. “100 Harshest Facts About Our Future.” Revolution X. http://www.cs.caltech.edu/ adam/LEAD/harsh.html (20 Oct. 1999).