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Young US voters express unexcitement but concerns for their issues around 2020 election

作者:admin 2020-11-04

Young US voters express unexcitement but concerns for their issues around 2020 election

US election Photo: VCG



"Overhauling and undoing the last 40-50 years of absolute havoc that has been wreaked upon our trade union system," could be attained with the confines of the US political spectrum, said Ryan Mulcahy from
San Francisco, California, although he expressed doubt either US President Donald Trump or former US Vice President Joe Biden cared to achieve that.

The 20-year-old undergraduate student is one of many young voters unenthused with the two major options for the presidency. As US voters brace for an unprecedented election, young people have turned out in droves. But despite this year's higher turnout, the youth presence at the ballot box still lags behind other demographics.

In an election plagued by campaign violence, social media censorship, and voter disenfranchisement, many hardcore Trump and Biden supporters peg this election as an existential choice. But young voters reached by the Global Times say any positive change will come only from the grassroots, not a Biden presidency or a second term for Trump.

Primary concerns

"Some sort of massive overhaul of energy sector would be critical to stopping climate change," said Mulcahy. The Washington Post reported voters between 18 and 29 rated global warming as their most important issue. "Scientists have told us we have less than 10 years to solve the problem or else it'll just keep accelerating," said Azul Torres, a 21-year-old American University political science student concerned with environmental protection and the lack of US commitment to mitigating climate change. 

Torres' other political priorities include abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and addressing police brutality. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May prompted worldwide protests in solidarity with minorities facing police brutality and calls to defund the police. Nearly half of young US adults support cutting police funding - a 22-percentage points rise over the past two years, according to Data for Progress.

"My principal political issues of concern are economic inequality, war, and racism," said Danny Haiphong, a 30-year-old journalist. Since 2001, the US has bombed seven Muslim-majority countries. The military has expanded its scope from carrying out assassinations of foreign dignitaries and US citizens to militarizing space. The US Space Force was enabled with last year's military budget of $738 billion, the largest in US history, and backed by both Republicans and Democrat legislators. Meanwhile, more than half of minimum wage workers say they must work more than one job to survive, according to statistics found by job site CareerBuilder. 

"An immediate rapprochement with the rest of the world and properly negotiating the exit of American empire," is necessary for Mulcahy, who has protested US intervention in Venezuela, noting that neither candidate is serious about peace.

Pandemic relief, racial justice, and eradicating poverty are among Morgan Wardlaw's top issues. "I always get riled up when there's government money to bail out large corporations (airlines, tourism cruise industry, etc.) but there's never enough money to fund education or public housing initiatives or anything benefiting the general public on basic living," said the 25-year-old actor and musician based in New York City. COVID-19, arguably the central issue of the 2020 election, has worsened material conditions for Americans in poverty or a paycheck away with 30 million being at risk of eviction this fall, according to Zach Neumann of the Aspen Institute. 

Party fatigue 



While Biden failed to energize young voters during the 2020 Democratic primaries, data shows he has picked up young support since the Democratic National Convention. Major polls point to Trump currently underperforming among the youth.  

Haiphong condemned Trump's 2017 tax cuts, the new cold war with China, and the administration's racism. But he also finds Biden's leading push for the Iraq War and "long history of deregulating Wall Street" unacceptable. "While Biden and Trump are not similar in presentation, they ultimately hold very similar political agendas," Haiphong told the Global Times. "Young people have a right to feel they have little stake in the political system."

"Voting in itself is something that is actively suppressed in the US and that many people are disenfranchised from," said Torres, who attempted to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. Her representatives were in Texas, but she lived in Washington, DC and had to vote absentee. "My registration was denied two days before the election. There was no way for me to fix the issue without flying back home." 

Voter suppression coupled with dissatisfaction by both major political parties have discouraged her from electoral politics since. "Pushing for people to conform to two options that are not enough; it's no longer democracy," Torres told the Global Times. "Whether it's organizing mutual aid drives or helping your local community or organizing a protest, a march, or vigil," there's other ways to get involved. 

Wardlaw echoed resentment with the electoral system. The Electoral College, a body of 538 electors, ultimately decides the presidency and has superseded the popular vote throughout history, including in 2016. 

Critics says this poses problems for a fair election due to gerrymandering, which continually redistricts constituencies in favor of affluent neighborhoods, and voter role purges, enabled by the US Supreme Court's 2013 weakening the Voting Rights Act. "The more unchanged this system goes, the more corrupt it becomes and the less minorities and working class people have a say in policies or elected leaders who draft our laws and shape our society," said Wardlaw. 

Regardless of who wins the election, Mulcahy said grassroots activism for progressive social reform will be a consistent trend of youth political engagement, especially if the Supreme Court, the Department of Homeland Security, or far-right groups stage some kind of clear interference like Bush v Gore during the 2000 presidential election. 

Mulcahy said if the US electoral system "ever was a genuine representative body or setup, it was by and large designed to curtail popular dissent; it is meant to provide a source of legitimacy for the ruling class." He is deciding between not voting or voting for the Party for Socialism and Liberation. 



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