Throughout my generation-focused career, I have faced much critcism and cynicism regarding the power and influence of Generations X and Y. Most recently, I was questioned about the influence younger generations would have on the election.Some (who happened to be Baby Boomers) dismissed my statistics about rising registration rates and volunteer participation in the presidential campaign, saying that younger voters may be doing all the right things, but probably weren't going to actually show up at the polls and have their votes counted on Election Day.
The media didn't help put the stereotypes to rest. Shortly before the Election, the Kansas City Star ran an article titled, 'Young voters could turn election, but will they turn out?' Gallup Daily ran a similar article: 'Young voters favor Obama, but how many will vote?'Just as I expected, young voters dispelled the notion of an apathetic generation and proved the pundits, reporters, political parties, and other naysayers wrong by voting in record numbers.How dare you call us too lazy to vote! Too egocentric to care about America's future!This is the problem with America today. The older generations don't trust, believe in, or want to acknowledge the presence–much less the power–of younger generations. Perhaps it's always been this way, but the neglect of younger generations today is likely to have far worse outcomes than any other time in history.Why? Because in just two years 40% of our workforce will be eligible to retire, making it difficult if not impossible to continue to compete in a global economy. America must engage younger generations now and take succession planning very seriously.Generations X and Y are not invisible or irresponsible. We are not the young whipper-snappers to be managed. We are the future majority — and that's a role we take very seriously.Like it or not, Generations X and Y are shaping our country's future.Perhaps Rock the Vote stated it best in the press release announcing 'Young Voters Make History':
'For 18 years Rock the Vote has promised that young people would reward elected officials and candidates for public office with their support on Election Day if they were reached out to in a sustained, substantive and authentic way.President-elect Obama did precisely that and more. He responded to the concerns and questions that they have. He found them on the Internet, engaged them through text messaging and technology, and devoted resources and time to earn their trust.This is a transformative moment. Research shows that once people register and vote for the first time, they become active members of the electorate for the rest of their lives. The same people who elected President-elect Obama will now ensure that he has the support to make the real changes so many of us have been calling for. And in the future public officials who overlook them as a bloc will do so at their own peril.'
In other words, young voters saw this election as their chance to help make history.And we did.
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