“What’s on the Minds of 12 Young Voters?” Not Much, And Not Enough

It is usually depressing when one digs into the sausage-making that is elections, and the recent New York Times inquiry into the pre-election reasoning of 12 young voters (20-somethings, with one 18-year-old) is especially so. Luckily, the statistics show our young voters to be the least likely to actually bother to cast votes, but still, these are the citizens we’re rearing, and attention must be paid.

Here is a summary of what they told the Times…

Jayda Priester, 25 [Atlanta]: “The most important issue for me is defunding the police. I am hugely for defunding the police and putting other resources available for crisis management, de-escalation.”

Me: Jayda says she hasn’t decided whether to vote at all. Good. Anyone who even considers defunding the police is too ignorant, naive and foolish to be a responsible citizen.

Kyle Moore, 28, [Wisconsin]: “I feel like the 20s generation does not express or voice their opinion as strongly as they should, like the older generations. They hold back more and don’t come out and voice or vote clearly enough to see the country succeeding.”

Me: Kyle should read the responses of the other 12 “young voters,” like Jayda. Opinions that misinformed don’t contribute anything positive to the national discourse. Maybe the smarter ones are holding back because they know they don’t understand matters sufficiently to have an informed opinion.

Kadie Mercier, 29, [Philadelphia]: “As an emergency-department nurse, we see people come in all the time that are in very poor health because they’re unable to afford their medications or find a primary care provider. And so it’s something that I’m really passionate about, making sure these people can avoid coming to the emergency department.”

Me: Kadie is apparently a single issue voter, and is informed to some degree on that issue. Single-issue voting is irresponsible, and thus unethical, but it has the advantage of being uncomplicated.

Chris Ahmann, 18 [Wisconsin]: “Immigration is really close to me. I’m one of the only people in my family who is in the U.S. right now. I was born here, but they want to come here to the U.S. I’d like to see it easier for people.”

Me: That’s a fine example of a useless, vague, “do something” opinion. “Easier” how? Easy like just walking across the border? That’s his degree of sophistiaction on the issue that most concerns him. Such voters are marks just asking to be decieved and manipulated.

Emily McDermott, 27 [Pennsylvania]: “Life begins in the womb, and I think that that is an inalienable right. And I don’t think it’s up to us to decide who lives and dies.”

Me: She’s another single issue voter, but if one has to pick a single issue, one that involves protecting the lives of millions of unborn children is good one. And her summary of the anti-abortion position is admirably clear.

Griffin Brunette, 24 [New Hampshire] ” [Climate change] is a ticking time bomb. We do have the power to make a form of change and make our voices heard, and it all starts with voting. I think a huge issue in getting people on board with what is going on is that it’s become a political thing, and I think that people on both sides should realize the future is in our hands. And we can do something about that by setting these Democrat/Republican things aside.”

Me: Ramalama-ding-dong. That’s typically passionate but vague climate change policy advocacy from someone who really knows nothing about facts or science, but is adamant that we “do something about that.” Ugh.

Jared Tate, 28 [Michigan]: “If Trump runs again, I will consider voting for him, mainly because of the financial aspect of it. Trump did a lot for small-business owners that a lot of people don’t know about. I voted for Biden last time and wanted to give him a chance.”

Me: Someone who votes against the office-holder that he believes helped a group he supports because he wanted to give someone else “a chance” doesn’t take the duties of democracy very seriously. (I won’t dwell on the folly of giving someone a “chance” who is clearly tottering on the edge of senility and who has had a “chance” on the national stage for five decades.)

Derrick Whitehead, 29 {Michigan, and Jared’s pal): “I honestly don’t know if I am going to vote or not. I look at it more as personal. If it doesn’t have anything to do with me and my inner circle or family, it doesn’t concern me.”

Me: Of course it concerns you. What a narrow-minded, civically irresponsible attitude.

Emily Matzke, 24 [Wisconsin]: “I just wish people just had more of an ability to compromise and know that not everything will be perfect for everyone, but if it could be better for the majority, then it’s at least what is best for all. I feel we can only move forward as kind people and a country if we can figure out a way to be kind. What’s best for the collective versus the singular.”

Me: Emily is probably a sitting duck for recruitment by totalitarians. I wonder is she realizes the internal contradiction in “if it could be better for the majority, then it’s at least what is best for all”?

Angel Martinez, 20 [Arizona]: “We just need to get back to our roots of being immigrant-friendly in this country. A lot of people have a really bad sentiment towards immigrants, especially immigrants from Latin American countries. Especially Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, all those countries, just because there’s this notion that jobs are being stolen or welfare is being stolen.”

Me: No, Angel, the U.S. is extremely immigrant-friendly. A lot of people have “bad sentiments” toward illegal immigrants, who have no right to jobs or welfare here, or to be in the country at all. Does Angel make a distinction between legal and illegal immigrants?

Jake Heller, 26 [Philadelphia]: “What issues are most important to me? Probably the classics: abortion, you know, bodily autonomy, the environment and I’d say gun regulation….I think it’s important to kind of be on the forefront of voting for [abortion] and just having a strong opinion on that. And that’s just kind of how I was raised.”

Me: Jake is telling us that as a registered Democrat he just checks all the boxes he expected to check, and hasn’t devoted much, if any, thought to issues, but he has strong opinions on them anyway. Jake may be the most typical young voter featured in the story.

Kelly Ocotl, 28 [Milwaukee]: “We have a son, so education is a big one. But the economy as well, you know, just trying to provide for our family is really important and how it’s kind of tanking right now.”

Me: Kelly is the kind of young voter that gives Democrats nightmares.

Kish Williams, 25 [Philadelphia]: “I know everyone’s, you know, talking about L.G.B.T. politics, trans rights, trans issues, trans protection and medication, and, being a trans individual myself, that’s a concern for me. And also, for Philadelphia specifically, I’m really interested in seeing what people are doing with the food and homelessness crisis we’re having right now.”

Me: Has there ever in U.S. history been a group as tiny and relatively insignificant as the trans population that has demanded and received such disproportional attention in national affairs?

3 thoughts on ““What’s on the Minds of 12 Young Voters?” Not Much, And Not Enough

  1. “Trump did a lot for small-business owners that a lot of people don’t know about. I voted for Biden last time and wanted to give him a chance.” = I gave more weight to the approval of my friends than to my own experience.

    Squishy ethics. Not strong enough to do what he thought was right, regardless of the noise his friends were making. But not weak enough to allow him to vote as he wanted and then just lie to them about it.

  2. Derrick Whitehead, 29 {Michigan, and Jared’s pal): “I honestly don’t know if I am going to vote or not. I look at it more as personal. If it doesn’t have anything to do with me and my inner circle or family, it doesn’t concern me.”

    Me: Of course it concerns you. What a narrow-minded, civically irresponsible attitude.

    That’s a definite maybe. He may be coming at this with the same responsible attitude that understands “charity begins at home” as meaning “charity begins where you know what you are doing” and without implying that that zone should not be widened further. If so, it is a very responsible approach by someone who is aware of his own limitations. Would you have him jump in anyway, without first dealing with those?

    Me: No, Angel, the U.S. is extremely immigrant-friendly. A lot of people have “bad sentiments” toward illegal immigrants, who have no right to jobs or welfare here, or to be in the country at all…

    To be fair, neither do any U.S. citizens have a moral right to be anywhere in the world except those areas that were acquired by the U.S.A. without force or fraud, like the Jackson Purchase. (And similar things can be said of many other peoples and places, e.g. all of England was stolen from the Welsh, apart from Berwick on Tweed and other areas that were stolen from the Scots – and that’s even without addressing whether those earlier inhabitants stole them before.) So this is a pragmatic rather than an ethical point: the current inhabitants are estopped from claiming any ethical high ground, as not coming to equity with clean hands.

    Me: Has there ever in U.S. history been a group as tiny and relatively insignificant as the trans population that has demanded and received such disproportional attention in national affairs?

    Yes: the so-called Sons of Liberty and also John Brown’s lot, before they acted to change those facts on the ground and create new facts. However, it is arguable that the former were not part of U.S. history but of U.S. prehistory.

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