Leaving it to the beavers

Published 12:36 pm Monday, November 10, 2008

Run! Run!

The pundits are raging, the pundits are raging.

The election is done, and so many of us have our introspections and interpretations. Let me bore you with mine.

Young people were into it bigtime.

The under-30 crowd, the college students, the young people beginning their careers, were heavily into the election process. With that new interest group and huge minority participation, and a ground-swelling of personal interest, we saw record-breaking voters at the polls everywhere.

Florida’s university towns were reporting unprecedented college age registrations and voter turnout. Tallahassee and Leon County with its two major universities saw record numbers of college students at the polls, giving the county the highest percentage voter turnout in the state. Other university cities reported similar results.

Why sudden interest from this age group and what sparked it?

Historically, under 30s abstain from the voting booth, rarely involving themselves in community or government issues unless events directly affect their wallets.

Regarding the youth vote, the Internet did it. This age group doesn’t read newspapers, doesn’t watch TV news or talk shows. They surf the Internet for their news and offer own views in return.

Last week, an author on National Public Radio was discussing this new interest in politics and government from the under-30 age group. They are aware of, monitor and digest information from hundreds of Web sites from divergent viewpoints and sources, and have the ability to weed the truth from the chafe, he said.

Since I surfed in on the middle of this radio interview, I didn’t catch the author’s name nor the title of the book, but he was saying his research had discovered that the under-30 crowd was heavily into issues of the day. They read everything time permits, and are able to discover the truth after digesting large amounts of material. All from the Internet.

The young people are not necessarily interested in political party affiliation, but are interested in issues regarding the direction of the country, solving major issues.

Here’s where their interests lie:

Consider—Young people alongside minority leaders are interested in eradicating poverty in America. The Census Bureau estimates that 12.5 percent of the population, or 37.3 million people, earned poverty level incomes last year. Young people support a 10-year goal to eradicate poverty.

Consider—Alternate forms of energy. Young people support government spending for research for all manners of discovering alternate sources of energy, weening ourselves from an oil-dependent economy.

Consider—They promote government spending even if it means higher taxes on pro-growth issues for schools, health care, job training and technology innovations.

The under-30 group wants government involvement and leadership in solving the major issues of the country. They favor more government intervention and regulation over less conservative views of less government and less personal interference.

Sorry folks. But a lot of those topics have a tag. Some may call them liberal, but for the sake of good fellowship, let’s call them “progressive.”

The election results will no doubt spark a youth movement in America and high pressure lobbying to solve minority problems. The under-30 group will be there.

A youth movement is healthy. I can see it here in Bainbridge. The youth of Bainbridge when Faye and I came here in 1991, are middle agers today, and have been gaining in leadership roles. We have a young mayor and several city councilmen. Extremely competent young people are opening businesses, becoming active members of civic clubs and chamber of commerce work committees, chairing important fund-raising events such as Relay for Life and similar events, and opening professional practices in health care and law.

Since 1991, we have been active participants in Bainbridge. We have enjoyed every event, cause and mission. It’s leaving our town a little better than how we found it, as the saying goes. Those of us who have been here for many years, and those who are native, remain actively involved in local events. We will continue to do so, perhaps slowing down a little, but we do so with the comforting knowledge that our community is in good youthful hands. All we ask is that occasionally they allow us to insert an opinion or two.

Borrowing a phrase from a popular president nearly 50 years ago, there’s no doubt that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.