Twentysomethings & the 2012 Election

Sadly, summer is winding down – but in So Cal, it’ll be hot until about mid November, best case scenario. It’s okay, I’m okay with the lack of seasons, however, I do wish it got cool – like, not 80 degrees in November. But alas, I digress.

Summer is winding down; it means fall is coming. This year, fall is ominous for me because it means this November there is an election for the President of the United States of America. It means for the next two plus months, I will be forced into hearing non-stop political adds and debates. I will hear bitterness, complaining and vain ego boosting – on both sides of the political ticket.

Fall is coming, an election is coming and people are expecting or anticipating Romney will bring America back to it’s deserved greatness, or that Obama, if given the shot, will finish the hope and change he started four years ago. Honestly, the intellect of this twentysomething isn’t gravitated to either candidate – but this is not the point of the post. No, the point is about elections and twentysomethings.

I love to study, watch and observe culture. Elections are a great cultural insight – even if I’m not a big political guy – this is still culture that matters. But this even got me thinking, it made me start to think and process about what I remember about elections. After all, our generation is coming into a place where we are receiving power, jobs and a place of importance inside our country. We are leaders, we are business owners, we are the future and the present. In fact we are more of the present then people care to admit.

So I wondered, what political events have shaped my cultural understanding? What situations have formed my views of politics, of twentysoemthings view of politics? 

Our parents grew up in the era of the Kennedy and Nixon battle, of his assassination and then his public fall. They grew up with Vietnam and the space program. This is what helped shape our parents generation and mindset, however, twentysomethings have a completely different perspective.

Sure, I remember the Clinton and Bush election – but only because of conversations, news and books. I remember having a mock vote in Kindergarten, but that doesn’t count (I also remember being one of only three kids in my class to vote for Bush – now you know my political upbringing). Yes, I even remember Dole running against Clinton – but that’s about all I can tell you. Oh, and I remember that I thought Dole was too old and why would anyone vote for a man lacking charisma. It was then my mother taught me about the political hierarchy  I saw take place with John McCain (how at times they are just next in line). I remember Clinton’s moral failure, but even that didn’t shape our generation much – but it does show the cultural representation of our view of sex.

No, what shaped our generation, coincidentally, was the 2000 election. Gore versus Bush, the election with so many different chad’s, I don’t know how anyone could keep them straight. In fact, I remember, because of my upbringing (my mother always listened to Rush Limbaugh), that if Gore won I’d wind up living in a tree (please don’t ask me to explain this, I really don’t know how it works).

Election 2000 is the first election I actually remember. I was thirteen and in middle school. It was here our generation began to see politics as it truly was – it was this event that I feel helps define our generation’s cynical nature. After this we got wrecked by 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan and all the political controversies which arose. Our cynical nature was hit even more when we discovered all the great athletes were on steroids.

The turn of the millennium is when our generation became full of cynicism. Now, as I sit and watch the Republican National Convention – I see people in their 60’s not resonating with my ears. I see people who are trying to take us back to the 60’s, when us twentysomethings know the 60’s will never happen again.

Our cynicism is a gift – it is also a burden.

Bush and Gore built a generation in their battle. Our cynicism has helped us survive the past 12 years and it helps us deal with the realities of a lack of opportunity upon graduation from college. These candidates talk about it, but they only understand these realities on an intellectual, foundational, what they read or hear level.

Yet, I sit and type this post while being unemployed and knowing many great twentysomethings who are un or underemployed. We are cynics. It is a gift. It is a burden. Our culture has changed. Twentysomethings no longer resonate with what either party talks about. Our generation is not moderate, we are parts of both – we live in the grey tension of reality.

Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong, but I know 2000 has forever changed us. How could it not?

I for one want to see my cynicism die every day. This is why twentysomethings gravitated to Obama and his campaign of “hope”. But, what I know is, the only way for there to be hope and my cynicism to die, is for the Gospel to be applied. America and Americans need the Gospel more now then ever. I’m excited to see how fertile the soil of America gets.



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