Jeremi, Zachary, and guest Dr. Samuel J. Abrams, argue that the United States should lower the voting age requirement to 16 years old.
Zachary sets the scene with his poem, “What You Still Have Left To Give.”
Samuel J. Abrams is a professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the co-author, with Jeremi and Zachary Suri, of a recent article in The Hill: “Give Young People the Vote,” https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/587055-give-young-people-the-vote.
- Dr. Samuel J. AbramsProfessor of Politics at Sarah Lawrence College
This is Democracy – Episode 178: Give Young People the Vote
[00:00:00] This is democracy, a podcast about the people of the United States, a podcast about citizenship, about engaging with politics and the world around you. A podcast, I asked about educating yourself on today’s important issues and how to have a voice in what happens next. Welcome to our new episode of this is democracy.
[00:00:28] This week. We’re going to talk about voting voter access, which is a big topic in our society right now. Uh, but instead of talking, uh, exclusive. About access to voting for different groups, uh, and questions about mail-in voting and voter identification and who counts the votes, all the issues that are super important.
[00:00:52] And in the news, we’re also going to talk today about, uh, and franchising, younger voters. What would it mean to give younger voters in our society more? What would it mean to give those who have more of a stake in our future? More of a role in our elections, uh, Zachary Sam Abrams, our guests today, and I have written an article about this and Sam and I have been working on a series of studies of young voters in our society.
[00:01:19] And we’re going to talk in particular. Young voters today and what role they could play if given more access to the voting. We’re fortunate to be joined, uh, by our good friend coauthor and a leading scholar. Uh, Sam Abrams, Sam, thanks for joining us today. Thank you so much for your interest in. Uh, Sam is a professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence college and a visiting scholar at the American enterprise Institute and a prolific author on this topic.
[00:01:46] And many others. Most recently, he’s been writing a lot about the role of libraries in our society. I encourage all of our listeners to read his work on that topic as well. We’re joined as well, of course, by Zach and research, who is a co-author of the most recent article that, uh, Sam and Zachary and I wrote on this topic in the.
[00:02:06] Called give young people the vote. We will link that article to the podcast itself. Zachary, do you want to start us off as always with your poem? What you still have left to give. Too many of us have watched your Sterling arches bow have heard your band playing on the tilting deck have seen your face the way it looks to you in the mirror after a night of remembering, is it what you’ve lost that haunts, you know, I can see it in your parched lips.
[00:02:38] It’s what you still have left to give. Too many of our team that faced the furtive violence of that Haggard face with which held high, like a crest or a shield, you wander the halls in your sleep. We watch your summed. Ambulations we have watched you walk, head first into a wall. Too many of our senior own regrets.
[00:03:00] We were the ones watching from the bridge. As you floated by ruminating, we were the ones in the supermarket. When you wept over a magazine, we were the ones holding you back. When you wanted to punch a stewardess, I have seen too many of your insecurities for you to feel secure. Shaking my hand, too many of us heard the voice in your head for you to consider giving us.
[00:03:26] I love it. Great. What is your poem about? My poem is really about trying to encapsulate the sort of generational gap that exists between young voters and already established members of our sort of political. Uh, and try to understand why it is that there is such resistance to giving young people a voice in our politics do allow things like social movements, uh, and, uh, and, and franchisement, that comes young people to, to play a larger role in our society.
[00:03:57] I think you expressed that very well. Uh, Sam, it seems so obvious to say that young people have such a stake in our future. Why is there resistance to giving young people more of a say in our politics? It’s about power. It’s about control it’s about the institutions, uh, for better or for worse older generations.
[00:04:17] Don’t want to step aside. We, we see this. If we look at who’s running for office, uh, in the presidency, I mean, you know, it was a very. Old set of communities. These were not even boomers. These were silent generation people. These were individuals over the age of 75. Uh, there’s a lot at stake in the political game right now, in terms of what issues matter, what people think about how various resources are distributed in whether it’s, uh, toward the environment, social security, uh, healthcare and so on.
[00:04:48] And if you have been in a position of power for decades, uh, it’s highly unlikely that you want to get. Uh, and I think that’s just a very straightforward, simple reality that, that we are facing today. Uh, I want to commend ’em exactly on yet another phenomenal poem. I, I do not know how you write these things.
[00:05:08] Um, I cannot do it and, uh, you know, I just shut my eyes. And I think your poem, uh, shows why you should be voting and you should be engaging. I mean, your generation of people. And I’m going to talk down for a minute, which is exactly what I don’t want to do, but I’m willing to do it anyway. I’m going to talk at you about this is, I mean, The sophistication of your argument, you just made, it was nuanced.
[00:05:31] It, it referenced history. It referenced struggle. And if you look back at the past few years, you know, folks exactly have not come of age in the booming nineties. When I, as a bitter gen X-er, I came of age when things were really. Easy and everything just seemed like we were floating on clouds and money was, you know, it was, was coming in, you know, folks of Zachary’s age.
[00:05:53] So these are gen Z folks who are, uh, in their teens and up to about 24. There’s no hard cut off point, but basically, you know, when we survey folks who are gen X’ers, it’s 18 to 20. Um, it’s very hard to survey folks younger than 18, uh, from a legal perspective. So we usually just do 18 to 24. Um, you know, this group came of age in a moment of incredible polarization, incredible economic instability, incredible environmental instability questions about security.
[00:06:23] I mean, when I grew up, I never dreamed. Of being attacked on the street, uh, because I’m Jewish or because I’m at a synagogue or just in my school today, you know, people have to deal with active shooter drills. Um, Zachary’s generation has basically walked through fire and walk through hell and back and.
[00:06:43] There are very impressive generation because it’s, again, not just one or two or three or four networks, uh, where they get their media from. This is a group that is inundated and bombarded with stimulus or stimuli that various stimuli, uh, have media thrown at them from around the globe, literally, uh, at all.
[00:07:01] And you, you know, this is a group that has learned how to process, how to separate the signal from the noise. How to be curious, how to question and how to say is this right? Is this wrong? Do I, does this make sense? Does that make sense? Um, they’re incredibly sophisticated, incredibly worldly, incredibly connected, and should have a voice at the table.
[00:07:21] Uh, even if they didn’t up until now, it’s not as if the folks who are boomers and, uh, You know, a silence have done a whole, a great job of leading this country. We’re incredibly polarized on a elite level. Uh, our, our, you know, our earth is burning. Uh, we have a lot of problems and, uh, we need a new voice and, uh, these gen Z ears, uh, can do it.
[00:07:42] And they’re about consensus building. They’re about finding practical solutions. So I’m excited and, uh, you know about this prospect, but it’s going to be a fight because the older groups have power. Why would they wanna get. Uh, Zachary, as you know, from the comments on our article, um, one of the objections to what Sam said so well is, uh, well, that’s not correct.
[00:08:05] Some would say young people, 16 and 17 year olds, they’re just on their phones. They don’t care. They don’t know what life is about. Uh, sure. They’ve grown up in these difficult times as Sam describes, but some would argue you’re also a spoiled generation. What’s your response to that? Well, I think it’s, it’s difficult to sort of bridge those, those generational resentments if you will.
[00:08:27] Um, but I think a lot of it is it, a lot of it has to do with this. Condescension towards new forms of media, as Sam mentioned, and new concepts of political engagement. And I think in many ways, our generation is bombarded with political messages every day, certainly, but we’ve also become more and more involved in political movements.
[00:08:48] I mean, The black lives matter movement, uh, in the past few years has become the largest social movement in American history. And it’s been by and large led by young people. And same could be said for a lot of, uh, movements that deal with issues from gun violence to climate change. And so I think that.
[00:09:07] Yes, young people have a different kind of political experience, but I think it’s a political experience that is even more valuable today in Washington than traditional political and legislative experience. And, and certainly the last few years, as Sam said, have reinforced those tenants. Indeed, indeed. Um, so Sam.
[00:09:26] Um, in 19, well really after world war II, the argument began to be made to give 18 year olds the right to vote. As many people might know, uh, until the early 1970s until the 26th amendment, um, only 21 year olds could vote. We moved the voting age by the early 1970s down to 18. Why now consider moving it to 16?
[00:09:51] Well, you know, Uh, in, in, in Europe. And as we mentioned in the article Germany, there are serious proposals to do that. Uh, I’m not familiar with a whole lot of serious proposals in the United States quite yet, but why now is very simple. We are gridlocked. We are gridlocked, uh, like nobody’s business. Uh, if there is a well-organized.
[00:10:12] Um, and I, and, and gen Z is, are incredibly well-organized. Uh, they may not have a leadership yet. And I think that’s one of the big issues. It’s not clear that there are certain mouthpieces, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense, but it’s not clear that there are thought leaders or particularly people who represent a gen Z quite yet.
[00:10:28] It’s much more diffused, but, um, you know, there’s this level of engagement. That’s very high. There’s a level of urgency. That’s very high. If we don’t act now, Uh, you know, how many books in the bookstore, how many articles come out, literally weekly talking about the fact that we may be headed down a totalitarian path in this country, uh, an authoritarian path in this country, um, that we’re not going to be able to break the gridlock.
[00:10:50] We need to do something to reestablish our values. We need to remember as a country that we are about creating consensus and. Uh, this group understands that, and this group has now come of age and has shown its maturity shown its ability to organize. Uh, it certainly was an active voice, uh, in 2020, uh, and, and the presidential election.
[00:11:09] And, uh, like I said, I think the older generations have seated, um, you know, their absolute right and authority here by messing things up so badly. Uh, you know, this is a way to provide, uh, what we say in political science and exogenous shock and exterior external shift that could, uh, possibly enter. Uh, and shake up the parties and, and change the discourse.
[00:11:29] Uh, and if we don’t do something quickly, uh, I think we’re headed down a very, very dangerous path in this country. I’ve written about polarization for years. And when my first book came out, uh, a book, uh, almost 20 years ago, which is very weird to say that I don’t feel like I’m old enough to. Um, a book, it was called culture war, the myth of a polarized America.
[00:11:47] I remember being asked, you know, could you ever see this country turning to civil war? Do you think this country could ever turn violent? And I would chuckle and say, we’re nowhere near that two decades later, I’m completely wrong. My feelings about that have changed radically. Uh, and there are extremists whether correct or not have a disproportionate amount of power in both the left and the right, we need to do something about that.
[00:12:10] Uh, expanding the electorate most likely will help signifi. It’s such an important point because historically as, as you know, so well, and I’ve written about it, it’s, it’s very hard to get, um, voters above the age of 30 to change their partisan preferences. Uh, voter change often comes from new voters entering the system, either voters who are disenfranchised and then given the right to vote like African-Americans in the years after the civil war.
[00:12:35] Well, before, uh, before Jim Crow. Or, uh, new voters coming into the electorate and then sixties and seventies in the wake of the civil rights movement. You see this as another moment like that, as I understand it, correct. That is exactly right. And this group is so mobilized that we also know from our studies and, you know, a lot of our studies have been wrong.
[00:12:55] Uh, I’m very open about that. A lot of our perceptions about the presidency and how. Have changed radically as, as a, you know, that Donald Trump took over and a lot of the norms and institutional sort of barriers fell very quickly. But one of the studies that is fairly robust is that voting becomes habitual.
[00:13:11] So if we can engage this group soon, it becomes habit forming, and then you will have an engaged generation for a very long time. Uh, my concern is if we don’t and. And power and balance continues. Um, this group may tune out. That’s one of my big concerns. They may say it’s over. What’s the point we, you know, we’re screwed.
[00:13:31] So I just say it that way, but I hear this all the time from my students. Uh, and, and from my survey work, uh, you know, this is a time when we may be able to engage. You know, seven, eight up to 9 million new voters. Uh, you know, it’s not a huge number relative to the over 300 million we have in the country.
[00:13:49] But when you have hotly contested, close races, tens of thousands of young folks in certain areas can make a very big difference and we have to do something. And as I said before, this is a wonderful way to do. Yeah, you make a very important point. I think one of the things I really liked that you said it’s about how important it is to get young people voting.
[00:14:08] And I think we hear a lot of talk nowadays in many ways, comes a lot from the right about civic education and the necessity of people, understanding what America is about, what America stands for. And I think there’s no better way to do that than to allow young people to have. And to allow people to vote young people.
[00:14:28] Uh, there there’s no better civic education in my mind for a young person than voting and having to pick from a list of candidates that they’ve never met before, or they have no idea what they do, uh, at the ballot box and having to actually learn about how their system works in their city, their state and their country.
[00:14:45] It makes it real doesn’t it. Right. Right, right. I’m curious. Zachary, do you think that, uh, if we open. Voting to young people, that there would be more engagement as you and Sam posit. What’s your evidence for that? Well, I don’t know if I have the same facts that you guys have from your, from your in-depth analysis, but I do think that, uh, at least from what I seen young people are very willing to call out the things that they find offensive.
[00:15:15] And to stand up for the things that they find important. And I think covert has just shown that to an even greater degree, uh, to think of all the stories about young people helping in their community, uh, during the COVID pandemic. And I think also, at least from what I’ve seen, young people have in many ways, been better about, uh, masking at least at my school.
[00:15:35] And I think. The young people have shown that they have this community spirit that I think is in many ways lacking in older generations and maybe in many ways that’s born of necessity. Right. Right. Especially at a time like this, right. This will be Sam’s point that you’ve had to stick together as a group because of the challenges you face.
[00:15:55] Right. And I also think. These crises. COVID the environment. Racism in our society have made a young people warier of the sort of political polarization and, uh, political dichotomy that we have in this country. And I think if we want to see a strong third party, it has to include young people in this COVID.
[00:16:16] Sam. That’s exactly the point I wanted to follow up on to you. You make the, the, the point in your prior comment in, and in many of your wonderful writings that this younger generation is less partisan, more problem-focused up for grabs in a sense, uh, what, what’s the evidence of that? Sure. So, um, we’ve written a bunch on this and, and, you know, the nice thing is that thanks to, uh, really, um, know.
[00:16:42] Ground moving polling changes. We’re able to do a lot more surveys, more affordably, and actually ask folks and over and over and over again, a strong attachment to partisan parties is, is, is less. You know, we, you know, we don’t see young people identify being a Republican or a Democrat anywhere near the level of, of older.
[00:17:02] Uh, when we ask about, would you listen to the other side, do you think you can work with people from diverse backgrounds, with diverse views? Um, younger folks take that as a point of pride. It is a, it is a badge of honor to say we disagree on things, or I want to hear what someone else has to say. And, um, as a result of this over and over and over, uh, the data just says, look, this group is.
[00:17:29] Wedded to the Republicans. It’s not wedded to the Democrats. This is not a situation from the 1960s or seventies where, you know, there’s a clear generational consciousness in one direction or the other, or an overwhelming generational consciousness in one direction or the other, but it’s, it’s a group of searching for solutions.
[00:17:44] Uh, so we write regularly that whichever party can, can stop being so narrow and can start being, you know, more broad and, and reach out. Uh, there’ll be able to hopefully, um, harness the power of this group and, and, and create a new coalition. Um, I’m certainly hoping, uh, we’ll see that, uh, and it’s something that I’ve seen in, in my classroom.
[00:18:02] And I presume you’ve probably seen a similar thing, uh, at UT Austin. And it’s something I see when I, you know, in my travels before COVID, when I’d be lucky enough to visit universities and colleges around the country. Um, a number of years ago, I would be exasperated after teaching, uh, exhausted. It would be very.
[00:18:20] Contentious, there would be a number of students in the class that were extreme in one way or the other. Uh, and it would be a very intense lecture or a very intense seminar. And you sit there and you go, boy, I have to really get through this and you know, what, what questions are they going to ask? And they’re not questions that because they’re curious they’re questions to prove a point or make some particular.
[00:18:41] Uh, ideological, uh, you know, uh, or approved some, you know, particular ideological, uh, view or value. And a number of years ago, it changed. I had students who certainly were passionate about certain things, but there were never that extreme teaching became a joy again, uh, because the students came in, they read, they didn’t argue with me over always this book left or right.
[00:19:03] Or in terms of who wrote it. They said, okay, you know, this person has left as a store. This person is, uh, on the right. Here’s what they say. Here’s the evidence here. Um, and I’m very, very optimistic about that. You know, the students are curious in a way they hadn’t been a few years ago. This is a generation that can get.
[00:19:20] Yep. I, I have certainly had exactly that same experience. And I have found just as you have over the last five to seven years, um, students have become much more interested in understanding these deeper problems rather than picking sides. And in fact, if anything, they think picking sides is exactly the problem.
[00:19:38] So I think you’re, I think you’re, you’re spot on with that. Um, Zachary, what would this look like? Uh, we’ll talk in a second about how one could do this legally, but let’s for, before we talk about that would, if, if 16 and 17 year olds were given the right to vote, uh, what would be the best way to make that happen?
[00:19:58] What would it look like in our society? That’s a good question. Um, I think. Encouraging, uh, voter participation in my young people would definitely have to be a priority. I don’t think that even though our generation is so politically engaged, I do think there is still a dissatisfaction with a lot of the systems of government and traditional politics.
[00:20:17] So I do think there would have to be a lot of voter engagement. Um, I mean, if you’re 16 years old, you’re old enough in most states to get a driver’s license, you’re old enough to get a job. You’re certainly old enough to have a child, uh, under the law. And I think. We should make voting a part of the everyday interactions that we have with government voter registration should be easy.
[00:20:39] And I think that should apply not just to young people, but across the board. And I just want to reiterate this point that. Legally young people, 16 and 17 in particular are already in many ways, full members of our society. It’s simply when it comes to voting really that they don’t get treated, um, in, in civil society as equals.
[00:20:58] And I think that part of the problem is that young people, especially at the moment are, are, are having to take on such responsibility and they’re not being given a voice in the decisions that really affect. Yeah, it’s, it’s really interesting. And you and I have spent some time talking about this, right?
[00:21:12] That 16 and 17 year olds like yourself, as you say, you can drive as a 17 year old, you can join the military. Um, you’re certainly responsible for doing all the things you need to do to get into university at your age. As you say, you could raise a child, uh, but you, um, are not allowed to drink. And you’re not allowed to vote.
[00:21:33] Uh, why do you think we draw these distinction? Why in a state like Texas, uh, can you, in a sense, be forced to give birth if you are pregnant at that age, but yet not be allowed to vote? I think part of it is we. Make this distinction between things that are sort of privileges and responsibilities, we don’t treat voting like a responsibility, like an everyday part of civic of being a member of a civil society.
[00:21:59] We treat it as this sort of privilege that is only given to those with enough experience of a certain kind with enough. Factual with enough sort of opinions that run in the, in the right line. And so I think that part of the problem is we don’t see voting as this everyday thing. It’s something that, that unfortunately, unfortunately, a not very large amount of our society participates in.
[00:22:23] And so I think we need to sort of change how we think about voting. If, if, if we want to. Finding ourselves in a situation where we’re limiting the voting rights of people who are already treated almost every respect as full members of society, sort of like, uh, how high school going to high school became the norm in the 20th century, being a political participant, folding should become part of the norm.
[00:22:49] So Sam, we argue in the article that the three of us wrote that this is actually actually something that could be done even without agreement in Congress, even without, uh, reforming the filibuster as is necessary for other reasons. Uh, one could do this at the state level, uh, that states, uh, since they have the right to determine, uh, voting, uh, laws, uh, the 26th amendment simply requires them to allow those 18 and above.
[00:23:15] To vote or not to restrict voting because of the age, if you’re 18 or older, uh, the states could start down this path. Do you think that’s really. Probably not, unfortunately I think you’ll see a few cases where it’s, uh, you know, it’ll be try, you’ll see it attempted, and it’ll get a little weird here in New York city.
[00:23:33] Uh, you know, they’ve increased the voter rolls by allowing, um, uh, non-citizens to vote. Interesting, a whole different set of, uh, legal questions. Uh, you know, I think, uh, this is gonna require, um, a state with a large, younger population to really step up and do it. Um, the reason I say probably not, it’s not because it shouldn’t happen, but because you have to find a state where there’s a large enough, uh, again, population of, uh, folks who are open to doing it, uh, you know, Texas is actually a good candidate for that.
[00:24:02] There are, um, uh, enough. College and university students scattered throughout the state that, that, you know, if they work hard on this, Texas might do it. But obviously with governor Abbott and, uh, you know, the, a whole set of other problems, Texas is a challenge, but it’s a place like Wisconsin that might be open to do it, a large student population there, uh, you know, big presence in Madison.
[00:24:22] Maybe there’s a way they could lobby and do it. You know, the older generations. And this goes back to Zachary’s point. Um, you know, again, it’s all about power. They don’t want to necessarily hand it over. Voter turnout is generally low in this country. It was pretty high in 2020, a little over 50%, but generally off your elections, which really really matter because they set up so much state and local, uh, government and so much institutional norms.
[00:24:46] You know, you’re looking at percentages that are often under 20 or 30. Um, the people who have that control don’t want to have it changed. Uh, but I do think again that, um, if you’re in a state with a large student population who realizes how important this is, and even college student population over a tune whose votes still matters, they can be a mouthpiece again for the, the younger cohorts in a place like Wisconsin.
[00:25:08] You might see that. Yeah. And it it’s, it’s relevant just following your excellent points to think about how states have been the leading edge of voter change, uh, throughout our history. Um, it is of course, many of the states that were well ahead of the 19th amendment, uh, giving women finally the right to vote in 1920, um, many Western states.
[00:25:31] Um, had a women’s suffrage long before the federal government did the, state’s got well ahead of that felony enfranchisement, right? There’s it’s not guaranteed at the federal level, but even a state like Florida recently passed a referendum. The state legislature in Florida is trying to. Prevented from going into effect, but the state of Florida passed a referendum overwhelmingly.
[00:25:51] In fact, because of grassroots activism, just as you described Sam, uh, basically or trying to reinforce franchise, uh, former felons in the state who had been denied the right to vote. So what you’re describing is actually a historical tried and true model of grassroots activism in the states, perhaps in a smaller state, starting a state with a lot of young people, uh, going out and.
[00:26:14] Pushing the state through referendum and through a regular voting where they can to actually enfranchise younger voters, uh, and states have every authority to do that. I don’t want to sound pessimistic or negative because it’s a point I think we make in the piece, that’s saying, you know, it’s not likely, and that’s the thing.
[00:26:29] There are going to be states where it’s going to be challenged, but I think. The right, the point that, you know, the states, you know, federalism really matters. You know, a lot of people have rediscovered federalism during COVID, uh, where they see how different states react to these things and how powerful states really are in shaping policy.
[00:26:44] That’s hugely impactful for safety and day-to-day life. Uh, so I think, you know, Uh, folks are very aware of how powerful states can be now in a way they weren’t 10 years ago and 20 years ago. But the state, you know, like again, Massachusetts, you might see it. Massachusetts has a very large number of, of students tends to be liberal, may be very open to this.
[00:27:02] So you may also see a state like that, do it. Uh, Texas may have some of the conditions, but a lot of conditions won’t be met. New York may have some trouble doing it, but again, there are going to be some states that, that, uh, and I, I agree that maybe smaller where you’re going to see this. Absolutely. So I think that the final question I wanted to ask and the final topic, I think we wanted to explore, uh, and it’s, it’s one you already touched on Sam is what effect would this have?
[00:27:27] Not just for the younger voters. Zachary has talked very eloquently about how this would provide a sense of civic. Uh, responsibility in a sense of civic spirit among a younger voters, but for society as a whole. Why, why Sam are you convinced, as you said before that bringing in 16 and 17 year old voters might save our democracy to, to put a strong point.
[00:27:49] But it, it, it, it’s actually very, very much true. We are stuck. Uh, you know, the fact is that you have a large number of Americans in the middle confused, you know, and they want to engage, but they hate their choices. Uh, or if, uh, they don’t want to, you know, they may just choose to sit this out because it’s so polarizing and so disgusting.
[00:28:09] Uh, So the parties really are just sort of moving more and more to the extreme. And the question again to me is how do you shake that up? Well, if there is a new group of voters in the millions that’s available, uh, and engaged, and these folks are engaged and we see that they’re engaged, we see how the unified around, uh, taking president Trump down.
[00:28:30] What’s also important to note is that the same group which took down president Trump does not like president. Uh, a lot of people misunderstand that they think, oh, it’s a love providing no, it was a disdain for Trump, but they still very much just like buy it. And so the question is, um, where can they put, uh, you know, their, their, their efforts.
[00:28:47] Um, you know, one of the things about parties is they want to win, uh, and they want to govern. That’s one of the first laws of political science that you have to win elections, or you’re nothing. At some 0.1 of these parties will be smart enough to pivot. So to me, it’s, it’s in many respects creating a market.
[00:29:04] Uh, that that can actually shake up the system a little bit and, uh, it may be slow on a, um, national. But on a local level, especially, uh, in, in, in certain cities and certain areas with large younger populations, uh, this really may break some gridlock. And to me I’m excited about it because I do think, uh, if we don’t do something soon, we are really heading down a path to potential civil war, uh, and just complete ineffective government.
[00:29:33] And, uh, this is not a view. I took 10 to 20. Well, and just to build on, on those fantastic points, Sam, I think one could really see the effect. This would have almost immediately on a number of congressional races. There are a number of, um, gerrymandered districts, uh, that have large numbers of students in them who, um, don’t vote.
[00:29:57] Um, but if they voted, it would change the complexion of those districts immediately. And that can have an enormous effect on who controls the house of representatives. Just, just as one example. Exactly. Exactly. And, and, um, you know, uh, our population is not random. It’s not scattered in a random way. It tends to cluster around certain cities.
[00:30:15] Uh, so it will have a real impact just split. Zachary, what impact do you think it would have on policy? Do you think it would actually, for example, uh, bring more attention to climate issues, uh, or at least mobilize more people around climate issues. That seems to be one topic that does unify a lot of younger voters, uh, also issues of, uh, sensitivity to, uh, gender and different sexual choices.
[00:30:39] Uh, do, do you think that that would, that would manifest in our. I do think so. I think that would be an important aspect of this, this sort of sea change, if you will. And I, but I also think that a, a key component here, but it would, it would hopefully, um, also bring greater involvement and concern from politicians about things like education, right?
[00:31:02] If, and, and, and more local issues that actually have. Th that affects young people on a very day-to-day basis. I think we forget how much of even national politics is about local constituencies. And I think with a sort of young voter base in a lot of districts that could have a real impact on basic infrastructure and educational institution.
[00:31:24] So I think, uh, we’ve really covered so much of this topic here. I wanted to ask you, the last question is accurate. You get to open with a poem and since you are the 17 year old on this podcast, I think Sam and I both agree you should have the final word as we’re imagining this different different world.
[00:31:42] And one of the points of our podcast is for listeners to recognize that democracy is about history and imagining that we have to recognize that what we inherit in our society is. The limit of possibility. The history teaches us that every generation as Rose Franklin Roosevelt said has to reinvent our democracy.
[00:32:00] And what we’re talking about here is democracy reinvention. As women suffragist reinvented democracy as civil rights activist reinvented democracy, um, as the movement to eighteen-year-old voting reinvented democracy, we’re talking about reinventing it here around young people, rather than those who, who dominate our system now.
[00:32:18] Zachary. Do you see this as something that young people could get behind? The Sam has made the point so well that it requires young people, not only wanting this, but actually creating a movement. What do you think? Yes. I actually really do think that this is something that young people could become very engaged in namely, because no matter your political color, when you look at the people in power as a young person, they don’t reflect.
[00:32:45] Us. And I think that that’s a very, we might underrate that as an important motivating factor. I mean, to think about all the huge global and local issues that affect young people on day to day basis, especially now in 2022. Uh, and, and, and to think that we have so much so little say in those issues, and so little say in the issues that will, that will affect us 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years down the line.
[00:33:14] And I think, I think that’s really powerful. And if anything, the last two years have shown us that, that, that, that our system is broken and that we can’t just sit idly by and wait for it to change. So, well sad, close us out. Zachary. Thank you for listening to this episode. This is democracy. Thank you. This podcast is produced by the liberal arts its development studio and the college of liberal arts at the university of Texas at all the music in this episode was written and recorded by Harris codine stay tuned for a new episode every week.
[00:33:53] You can find this is democracy on apple pie. Spotify and Stitcher see you next time. Uh,