We are the 21%

by Karan Chhabra & Adrianna McIntyre

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you an important message about Tuesday—and then we’ll get back to the health policy wonkery, promise.

via TheCanKicksBack.org

The political system has been playing a royal game of kick-the-can with the nation’s future, deferring difficult decisions and pandering to the present in a way that will leave the country, several decades out, in significantly more trouble than it is in now. This is evident in repeatedly delayed debt ceiling/fiscal cliff negotiations and issues surrounding Medicare’s fiscal solvency—think rising health costs, the demographic vortex of retiring Boomers, and a “doc-fix” problem that’s been largely deferred since 1997. Every time a politician declares that some policy “won’t affect current seniors,” the implication is that there will be negative impacts; they’ll just be borne exclusively by later generations—which means our generation.

Politicians are busy courting votes, and data indicates that their efforts are better spent with older voters. Although turnout has been increasing among younger citizens, there’s still a clear and consistent trend that we don’t make it to the polls as often as our parents and grandparents. Unfortunately, there’s also evidence that Millennials have even less intention to vote than usual this year.

Here’s the thing: we’re a huge generation, and our voices should be heard. 18- to 29-year olds now make up nearly a quarter (21%) of the electorate—that makes us larger than the 65+ voting block, the current seniors that politicians give such deference. So stop clinging to your youth for a hot second and spend some time at the polls like an oldster.

Even if you don’t think your vote will affect the election, if we buck the trend of dismal young voter turnout we’ll send a powerful signal to the nation and to Capitol Hill. Whatever your politics, it’s time to show the system that we care and that we will hold our politicians accountable for the quality of our future. The stakes are simply too high to stay home on Tuesday.

Not sure where you need to go to vote? Check here! (Or here, if your sensibilities are more delicate.)


Karan is a first-year student at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School who previously worked in strategic research for hospital executives and graduated from Duke University. Follow him on Twitter @KRChhabra.

Adrianna works in clinical research and is a graduate student in public policy & public health at the University of Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @onceuponA.


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