Saturday, June 10, 2017

Will Young American Voters Learn From Young Britons?

During the 2016 presidential election - which had a pathetic overall voter turn out - many of America's young voters stayed home.  The consequences for the country have been catastrophic.  Something similar happened in the United Kingdom during the Brexit vote- young voters stayed home and older, racist and bigoted voters tipped the election in a way that shocked many young voters.  On Thursday, they got their revenge and voted against pro-Brexit politicians and deprived the Conservative Party a majority in Parliament.  One can only hope that young American voters will take a page from the vote in Britain and turn out in large numbers both in November, 2017, in Virginia and in November, 2018, and direct their wrath at Republicans.  Staying home from the polls is never an acceptable option and for the young, it merely allows all too often greedy, aging bigots to sway the election outcome.  There is a message too for Democrat candidates: they need to connect with young voters and make the case for policies that address their concerns.  A piece in the New York Times looks at this past week's vote in the UK. Here are excerpts:
LONDON — As Britain took stock on Friday of the stunning results of a snap election that wiped out the parliamentary majority of Prime Minister Theresa May and her governing Conservative Party, one narrative bubbled up to the surface: The youth had spoken.
The election results were fueled partly by a higher turnout rate among young British voters who had long been angry at the results of the referendum last year to leave the European Union, known as Brexit. That vote, overwhelmingly supported by older Britons, was seen by many younger people as a threat to their jobs, their ability to study abroad and their desire to travel freely across the bloc’s borders.
In other words, the vote by young Britons on Thursday had a whiff of payback.
“I was so angry about Brexit that I buried my head in a pillow and screamed,” said Louise Traynor, 24, a waitress in the southwestern district of Battersea in London, who had never voted before Thursday.
Shaking her head in frustration, Ms. Traynor said she had been angry at herself because she hadn’t bothered to vote the first time around. “I was stupid enough to think that the country had some sense,” she said.
The Brexit referendum, Ms. Traynor said, could lead to closed borders, which threatened to tear her long-term Spanish boyfriend away from her, and her away from the group of European friends she had made while working at a tapas restaurant.
On Friday morning, she said, much of the anxiety she had felt about her future was replaced with excitement when she realized that her vote for the opposition Labour Party had denied the prime minister a mandate.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour gained 31 seats, while Mrs. May’s party lost 12 seats and its overall majority — leaving a hung Parliament, one in which neither side has enough lawmakers for control. In a statement on Friday, Mrs. May grimly announced that she would form a minority government with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.
Ms. Traynor said that Mr. Corbyn’s campaign had “injected energy” into what otherwise seemed like a stale election that would bring more “doom.”
“Does Theresa May care that I’ve been on minimum wage for three years and I’m still paying my student debt?” she asked. “No, she doesn’t. All she cares about is Brexit and getting her deal.” Many young Britons felt compelled to vote after the Brexit decision, because of austerity budgets and what they saw as the establishment’s tendency to serve the interests of the rich. This year saw a spike in young people registering to vote — more than one million people under 25 applied. The turnout in constituencies with younger voters rose significantly, appearing to benefit Labour. The turnout for 18- to 24-year-olds was 66.4 percent, according to Sky News data. Other reports put it as high as 72 percent. In the 2015 general election, the rate for voters of the same age range was 43 percent, according to Ipsod, a marketing and opinion research company.
The payoff was evident in Battersea, where Labour seized the Conservative seat.
“Representatives from the Labour Party knocked on our doors and gathered us in groups, asking us about our problems and talking to us about solutions,” said Jessie Cox, a 21-year-old student. “They gave us a reason to vote.”
Jennifer Hudson, a senior lecturer in politics at University College London, said the effectiveness of Mr. Corbyn’s campaign could be seen in a picture of him with young supporters, cheek to cheek.
“I thought: ‘We will never see Theresa May like that with her supporters,’” Ms. Hudson said. “He has managed to create a human connection with his voters.”
“We may still be far from the final result that we wanted, but this feels like progress, and hopefully, it gives out a message to the pompous Tories that they can’t make bad decisions on our behalf,” said Luke Rossi, 25, a musician who had voted for the first time.
In Battersea Park, students ages 19 to 21 were debating possible political outcomes of the election aftermath. All said they hoped Mrs. May would be removed as leader of her party.
“She’s an embarrassment to the country,” said Fiona Barry, 20, a student at Queen Mary University in London. “England deserves so much better than that.”
Trump, Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell and  and Paul Ryan are all an embarrassment to America. Even more so than the Tories, Republicans have nothing to offer to young Americans given the GOP's sole desire being to give enormous tax cuts to the wealth while slashing benefits and the social safety net that aids everyone else.  I hope young voters wake up to this reality and get out and vote in their own interest.  It's a virtual guaranty that aging whites - and evangelical Christians - do not give a damn about the long term future of the country or economic opportunity for all. 

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