Earn my vote

Author: Meg Morrison '13

Meg Morrison

“Absentee Ballots: Do you have the ballot you need?”

The subject line was innocent enough. As a college student living out of state, I didn’t know how to cast my vote, so I clicked on the link.

Instead of a helpful how-to, I found an email loaded with partisan propaganda. It wasn’t from a national political party. It wasn’t even from a random spammer. This was a message from dear old Dad telling me how to vote.

But if I’m old enough to vote, I’m old enough to come to my own conclusions about which candidate deserves my vote. And at this point, I’m not really sure either of them does.

I’ll be honest: If I weren’t taking a class called Media and Presidential Elections this semester, I — like many young people — probably wouldn’t be paying all that much attention to the process. But since my GPA is at stake, I’m pretty invested in keeping up, and so far I’m disappointed at the candidates’ apparent lack of concern for young voters.

In the first debate, President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney made repeated references to considering policy in terms of what voters might want for themselves and their children. They did not, however, emphasize how young adults in particular might be affected by each potential presidency.

The first question of their second debate offered a glimmer of hope: A 20-year-old college student asked, “What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?”

Aside from mentioning that he supports grant and loan programs to help students pay for college, Romney had little to say about young people finding a job.

“I know what it takes to get this economy going,” he said. “I know what it takes to create good jobs again…I’m going to make sure you get a job.” No game plan. No specifics. Sigh.

Obama’s answer wasn’t much better. Instead of answering the question, he segued into his three-point plan: manufacturing, higher education and energy. Nothing about what he plans to do will make it easier for college graduates to find jobs. Sigh.

A straightforward question deserves a straightforward answer, and young voters deserve a president who understands their needs and will work to address them. So far, I’m not sure we have such an option in either Obama or Romney.

I, for one, managed to sort out my absentee ballot, albeit with some parental assistance. I am still somewhat undecided, but I don’t need my dad or anyone else to tell me how to vote. I’m just looking for a candidate to earn my vote by showing that he cares about my generation.

Meg Morrison, this magazine’s summer and autumn intern, is the author of the “Dublin Days” blog, available at Blogs. Contact her at mmorri12@nd.edu.