Getting the Kids to Vote

Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Here’s something I don’t get. Maybe it’s because I’m dumb. Or maybe it’s because I live in California and I don’t see the same TV ads as everyone else.

But here it is. We liberals spend a lot of time griping that young people don’t vote. Fine. So how do we get them to vote? So far, I’ve seen various PSAs that explain how easy it is to vote; how you don’t want to let old people decide who runs the country; how easy it is to figure out which candidates are good, etc. And I guess that’s all fine. But various groups have been running PSAs like this since television was invented and young people still don’t vote.

So here’s what I don’t get. Why isn’t, say, Barack Obama, recording a PSA that really gives young people a reason to vote? A PSA that:

  • Specifically says “vote for a Democrat, any Democrat.”
  • Specifically goes after Trump and Republicans and figures out a way to convince 18-year-olds that Republicans are idiots.
  • Specifically talks about issues that a young, disengaged voter might care about. Free videogames for all! Whatever. Our problem is not getting college students to vote, it’s getting high school grads to vote even though they don’t care about climate change, abortion, or social justice.
  • Makes a game out of it. I dunno. Create some app that makes it fun to round up your friends to vote. You get points for every Democratic friend and negative points for every Republican friend. Sure, this sounds dumb, but it’s not the dumbest app I’ve ever heard of.

Here’s the thing: progressives don’t want kids to vote just because it’s their civic duty. We want them to vote for progressive candidates. In today’s world, that means Democrats. So run ads giving them all good reasons not just to vote, but to vote for Democrats. Hell, it might be the first time some of them even learn there are two political parties.

That’s the end of the rant. What am I missing here?

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate