Roses are red, and violets are blue: A bumper crop of politically-conscious students blossomed this year. They sprouted in the earliest days of spring with the beginning of the Presidential election, and grew tall and flowered with the progression of the campaign through the summer. In early November, they were harvested in record numbers. And now, their growing season over, they’ve gone dormant for the winter. Disheartened or enthused with the election results, young voters have suddenly weeded themselves out of the political process.
That has to change.
Voting is an essential part of a democracy – that much has been repeated ad nauseam from all sides since March. But equally essential, or perhaps even more essential, is continued involvement in the political process. Plenty of people were disappointed when President Bush won reelection, and a near-equal number were thrilled. But no matter which side of the political spectrum voters fell on, whether they grew up to flower red or blue, their participation in government even now that leaders have been chosen is critical.
Letters to congressmen can be written in the time it takes to watch an old episode of Sex and the City. Keeping abreast of the issues is as simple as signing up for daily e-mail updates from the New York Times. Voting in mid-term elections and primaries can be every bit as essential as voting in a Presidential election – and the lines are significantly shorter. Writing to a local newspaper is a much better way to convey your rage with politics you find offensive than mouthing off to your friends. Most of them are probably sick of hearing it anyway – or else, they’re feeling the same way. And when a group of angry young politicos get together, amazing things start to happen.
We all know what happened when hippies protested Vietnam. Less widely acknowledged is the role of the younger generation in the World War II years: Young people were the ones so determined to defend America and the ones who shaped world history by winning. During the Civil War, and even the Revolution, it was young Americans who crafted the destiny of our country by standing up for what they thought was important. So whatever you think is important, find someone else who feels the same, put together a nasty letter to the editor, call up your congressman, and get back in the fight.
So come on out of hibernation. It may look like winter now, but push your roots deeper, and gather strength for the spring. This year’s crop of voters has to sow the seeds for more young voters to come, and grow tall to shelter them as they sprout. And although CNN would like us to think that the color of the flower, red or blue, is paramount, it is really the fact of the flower itself, and what it means for America and the future.