The morning after, the numbers are in. One in five people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted. One in five. Those who did vote turned out for Democratic candidates over Republicans by a wider margin than any generation before (56 to 40 percent — all of us before them, my generation included, have been an even split).
The rest — we’ll call them unlikely voters — break down along the same lines. But who cares how you identify if you don’t vote?
Sure; there was no President to elect this time. No rallies, no viral videos on YouTube. Sorry about that. There’s only so much dancing baloney those of us who are already working are obliged to make, know what I mean?
It’s early yet, but I thought I’d tackle the consequences. Now, a few months from now, and later.
Here is what is already gone:
- The judges who approved gay marriage in Iowa. Voted out.
- One Senator so good he was actually an institution (Google “Russ Feingold”). You might want to look up “McCain-Feingold Act”, “USA PATRIOT Act (nay vote)”, “bipartisan”, or simply, “integrity”.
- Voter protections under Federal law. In Oklahoma, voters approved a measure requiring the use of photo ID at polling places.
- Locally: Legal marijuana in the State of California. I guess you can say we never really “had” this one. The over-30 population was all over the map about it, but many people under 25 were excited about legalization. Not stoked enough to vote!
- Even more locally: The right to sit or lie on any public San Francisco street between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., with the exception of special events (like today’s Giants Victory parade). Eat your Ben & Jerry’s walking, hippie.
And here’s what’s next in the crosshairs:
Health care reform. Not that this is a subject that really matters to young people. “Although [President Obama] has pushed efforts with health care reform, that’s change that hasn’t affected the majority of 18 to 29 year olds,” says Lillian Nottingham, a Harvard student who helped craft a survey of youth voters this year.
I guess Nottingham missed this little event. She’ll really miss it sometime after she graduates, when her inability to read about the events she’s covering costs her a real job.
Student aid reform. Republicans have promised their Tea-Party backers that they are going to start cutting the budget somewhere. Where else can they possibly go? To Social Security? Medicare? The people affected by those programs actually vote.
I fought like hell to get President Obama elected. I fought doubly hard for the passage of health care reform, because it was — and still is — the right thing to do, for generations I will never live to meet. But after some time working in that particular salt mine, guess what I’ve decided might be the new right thing to do?
I have never lived that way. It’ll be new. How does it feel, Millennials, to wait for someone else to do stuff for you?
I think I’m finally ready to find out.