I’m not prepared to make any sort of official election statement on behalf of FP, nor will I attempt to do so. Despite regularly sharing our ideas on topics as diverse as punk rock existentialism to radical anti-communist visual artists to Ben Affleck’s beard to Jeopardy heartthrobs to unloved vegetables—and just about everything in between—we tend to keep away from political statements, and that’s stance worth preserving as much as we can. That being said, several takeaways from Tuesday’s results excite me personally as an open-minded young citizen, a writer and a media professional.
As a member of the highly sought after and discussed 18 to 29 year old voter bracket, it’s easy to get swept up in the raucous nature of the presidential election. The rising trend in turnouts for the under-30 crowd (voters under 30 turned out in greater numbers than senior citizens this year, and the percentage of the eligible voters under 30 is up 15 points since the 2000 election) is linked in some way to the rise of social media and user-generated content. From way back to the primaries, it was clear that our age group has appropriated new media’s basic tenant of “speak if you want to be heard” beyond pithy tweets and plastering Romney’s face onto a trapper keeper. Thanks to our own volition (and the platforms on which we post), we are changing the world.
This is a Big Fucking Deal.
As easy as it may be to complain about the proliferation of political Facebook statuses or Tweets, the fire to uphold one’s values and hopes for the nation is sustained and fanned by our ability to state and gather opinions in a public forum, in real-time. While all your “friends” may not be as educated as you’d hope or as open-minded as you wish, the interest is there and the information—if often skewed—is readily available. Yes, it’s easy to tune out, especially in the last few excruciating weeks. But the important point is still present: our voice is heard.
President Obama spoke before his supporters and the nation Tuesday night and shared a very similar point:
“Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight. And it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter.”
Depending on your point of view, we made some great strides this week, or some great missteps. However, it is undeniable that our country is moving towards a more open-minded and welcoming place, specifically in regards to civil liberties. Americans in Maryland, Maine and Washington voted to usher in a new era of marriage equality. In Maryland, 70% of voters under 30 voted in favor of extending marriage rights, according to the Washington Post. The country may be widely polarized, but numbers like that prove that change has begun, and doesn’t show any signs of receding.
There is much to be done, on that we can all agree. But important steps have been taken, and continue to push us forward. The extension of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” to include all Americans is a responsibility the youth of the nation has accepted. I’m proud to be a part of our responsible generation, and proud to take part in these nation-altering events. Thanks to all who are actively working to make this country a better place. Who knows, maybe the President is right and maybe Will McAvoy is wrong; maybe the best is yet to come.
Until next time, keep tweeting.
Peter Lillis is Managing Editor of Frontier Psychiatrist. He’s no pundit.