Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Steerage - Day 2

Day 2 - Thank a young voter for participating.

As I've previously explained, I work in a pretty damn liberal organization. While the GOP certainly had their own GOTV effort in business and industry (basically, it amounted to scare tactics broadcast to employees), there are plenty of businesses operated by progressive owners. Here's what struck me about my place of business - as liberal as it is, the ownership was not willing to get out front of a public demonstration of their support, at the risk of potentially alienating clients who were not so, eh, progressive.

Internally, we did a pretty nice job, registering everyone who wasn't registered, passing around company email on the latest political gaffes, and generally building up the Kerry campaign. There's a lot of young people (20 - 30 demographic) that work in our organization, so finding someone to thank for their participation wasn't difficult. What's a bit harder to deal with was the reaction to my "thank you".

There's a lot of bitterness among the younger folks in the organization. Some of them were involved in GOTV efforts; at a minimum, it seems like all of them spent some talking to friends and family. One guy butted heads with his die-hard GOP dad, and brought up the subject of the draft. His dad's reaction? It'll do ya good; make a man out of you.

How do you argue with that kind of logic?? You don't. You can't. It's impossible.

And it's frustrating for those who are just coming "of age"; frustrating to the point that I don't know how many of the young folks we registered in the past election cycle will be willing to participate in the midterm elections two years from now. The grayer of us on the left implored these young folks to get involved, when maybe the comfort level wasn't there on their part. We convinced them that it was personal - that it had to be - I mean, how much more personal can you get than some faceless government bureaucrat deciding your future for you?

I'm thinking that they're let down right now, and that many have the distinct impression their votes truly don't matter. No one likes being associated with a losing team. That's just the nature of our "winning is everything" culture (thanks, Coach Lombardi).

So I'm finding that this particular mission may take a bit longer than I anticipated. In fact, it's looking like a long term project -- an educational process, especially for the younger dudes and dudettes. What's clear to me is that reinforcing the importance of their participation is critical in retaining their involvement.