In reading some things this afternoon, I stumbled upon this op-ed in the Stanford Cardinal. Written by Joseph Koss, a Stanford junior majoring in secondary education in social studies, this is one of the more inspiring pieces of writing about youth voting I’ve read this election year. Koss really gets into it after reviewing the youth voting numbers since 1972. It complements what I wrote earlier today.

The baby boom generation has had their chance. They were supposed to be the generation that would indelibly shape the direction of the country for the better. Well, after 16 years of baby boom rule, our country is in the midst of some of our biggest challenges since the Great Depression. We face a dysfunctional political system that seems to be a “tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago—played out on the national stage.”

There is a growing X/Y generational divide forming between those under 40 and those over, and this election is a chance for new voices and new approaches to be heard. But the change must begin with you exercising this right, a right that has seen men spit in the faces of Kings to defend; that has seen free men endure lynchings and unspeakable atrocities to defend; seen grandmothers, mothers and daughters suffer decades of humiliation to defend; and seen Reverends giving speeches about dreams that bring tears to grown men’s eyes to defend. It is a right so easy to exercise that all you have to do is wake up one morning every two years with the determination to find your local polling place and cast a ballot. Yet it is a right so venerated, so exceptional, that people have died just for the opportunity to say they did it. Tuesday, November 4th is your opportunity to help shape this country in your image. Please vote.

To recap:

Yes, the importance of this election is unparalleled (we hear this a lot each cycle). But it’s not just because of the problems mounting in front of us.

It’s because those in power — those who have their voices heard on a regular basis — can’t seem to get away from the small rhetoric that is simply not capable of fully appreciating the danger of these enormous challenges.

And it’s also because, for once, we have a generation of Americans willing and capable of solving these problems. Young Americans, like Joseph Koss, are itching to put their optimism, their pragmatism, their obligation to civic duty and give back to others, to use. In order to get the most out of them, we need the right leader — a facilitator-in-chief — in office. We need someone forward-thinking. We need someone that knows how to rally young people, someone that understands young people — and yes, that means being able to operate the internet and understand the leading edge of technology. We need Barack Obama.

But, as Joseph Koss wrote, none of this can happen without that trip to the polls.

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