Young Want More Focus on Their Issues

Younger voters weigh in on issues that they say politicians put on the back burner,
Victoria Price reports.

By Emily O’Donnell
BU News Service
Younger voters, some of whom helped President Obama return to the White House for another term, are expressing dissatisfaction with the president and Congress for not focusing on issues that are important to them.

“With a national defense crisis overseas and the ongoing debates over the debt ceiling, combined with a recovering economy, issues that matter to young people often get put on the back burner,” said Dave Martinez, 21.

Martinez, a registered Republican, named access to higher education, the job climate for recent graduates and student loan repayment as the most important issues affecting of young people today.

George Washington University junior Max Sanders, 20, agreed with Martinez, but said that “big picture” problems, such as the recent debt ceiling debate and America’s role in the Middle East, should come before youth issues in the president’s second term.

“They’re certainly overshadowed in Congress and rightfully so. Looking ahead, these are issues that should take precedence over things like students’ tuition rates,” said Sanders.

Katherine Wynne, 20, disagreed. Wynne said that political rhetoric and media coverage do not reflect general interest in issues, especially for the millennial generation. Wynne cited AIDS funding as a matter most important to her.

Some students, like Sanders, argue that the reason issues that young people care about are underrepresented is due to a lack of enthusiasm among young people themselves.

“There is a lack of interest in political issues, and maybe even a lack of knowledge about issues that impact our generation,” Sanders added.

Wynne also said that a lack of information was to blame for a perceived “enthusiasm gap.”

“When you offer information to people my age, they’ll get engaged quite easily,” said Wynne.

Despite the perception that their issues are being pushed aside, some younger voters are looking forward with the hope that this will change.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve seen such gridlock in Congress for the past four years,” said Martinez.

“Hopefully looking forward, both Republicans and Democrats will stop politicizing the legislation they pass,” he said, “and start speaking up for young people.”

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