Published November 13, 2006 06:26 pm - After finding my only tie and following an Internet diagram to secure a Windsor knot, I waited anxiously for my ride to the election festivities by pacing in front of my television —Time to learn to tie a tie
Young Democrat is ready for change, even for himself
By DANIEL ROBISON
Local Guest Columnist
It seemed as if everyone in the room had caught a fever when the election returns were written carefully on the board in front. Adults became children, and children, absolutely confused by their parents’ behavior, stood either slack-jawed with awe or stone-faced with boredom. There is little else that gets grown ups more excited than a political triumph, and judging by pandemonium in this room, this victory was much sought after, prayed for, and finally, welcomed with much glee.
In the same room where I saw him announce his candidacy in January, 8th District Congressman-elect Brad Ellsworth had to practically shove supporters to make it through the throng of people screaming his name and blocking his path in order to accept victory. Struggling to see him over folks standing on chairs and waving signs, I listened to his and Sen. Evan Bayh’s speeches laden with references to, “change,” and, “cleaning up the mess in Washington.”
While I canvassed for Ellsworth’s campaign, made phone calls, and tagged my car with his sticker, I still was cautious to believe his or Bayh’s optimistic language – or really, that of any other victor one week ago.
As pleased as I am with the midterm election’s results, I am also nervous about the consequences. Only time remains before Democrats, with years of indulging in their minority status to criticize and ridicule their foes, will be forced to go on the defensive about their own activities and legislation. Democrats will have to fend off attacks about their initiatives while selling their plan to the American public.
It remains to be seen if this new Congress will be able to handle the pressure and responsibility that comes with the task of governing. Democrats will have to convert the energies spent obstructing Republican legislation the past 12 years into pursuing a fresh and effective agenda.
I believe that the results of the election adequately represent the frustrated temperament of the country, less than 41 percent of eligible voters bothered to cast ballots on Tuesday, according to Reuters. Even less impressive was the turnout of young voters (considered those under-30), at only 24 percent. While this statistic shows an increase of 4 percent over 2002’s midterm elections, evoking praise from numerous pundits, I tend to see these numbers as pathetic.
Sure, ubiquitous negative campaign ads, scandals, unkept promises, the grip of the two party system, and a dysfunctional campaign financing system frustrate many into avoiding the polls. But using these reasons as a crutch for not voting just further perpetuates these problems and amounts to little more than foolish justification for apathy.
There is no excuse for young people who want to vote but decide the process is too tedious, confusing, time consuming, or any other excuse that would-be voters are so apt at creating. Registering to vote is simple, and as long as you’re a citizen and haven’t been convicted of a felony lately, you’re in. Of the fellow college students I spoke to this campaign season, a great number were not registered, nor felt the impetus to take the appropriate steps. Further, the majority of registered voters I found on campus did not request an absentee ballot, citing mostly forgetfulness or unfamiliarity with the process as explanations.
I hate to admit that most dialogue concerning voting, politics, or electoral issues largely falls on deaf ears to those my age. Worst of all, I believe that my generation is comfortable in this indifference, and will not change its ways unless a drastic change of attitude occurs.
Although I was initially reluctant to attend the aforementioned election night rally — out of fear of experiencing another defeat-ridden repeat of the past few elections — I eventually decided to go after realizing that I no right to give speeches to others about their lack of participation if I was too afraid to face the election night music of America’s voters.
After finding my only tie and following an Internet diagram to secure a Windsor knot, I waited anxiously for my ride to the festivities by pacing in front of my television — which by then was displaying favorable early poll returns. Ever since I started following politics, very few of the candidates in the past I supported ever won. Seeing those early auspicious results gave me some semblance that my participation in the electoral process had mattered.
After the celebration had dwindled, my friends and I somehow found our way to Ellsworth’s after-party suite and spoke with the new congressman, the mayor of Evansville, and others. Granted, finding ourselves in such company, we were slightly tongue-tied and white-knuckled. But these politicians set us at east by praising our initiative to become involved, even if we did walk into their soiree uninvited. Driving home, I spotted many political signs, so relevant hours before, sitting atop trash piles on the curb. This provided a perfect metaphor for the change I hope occurs. Pleased with my small contribution to the process, I currently remain timidly optimistic at the promise of a new era in Washington. More...