As if young voters needed further evidence, Republicans have shown once again how little regard they have for the future of our country. This time I’m not talking about their economic or environmental sloppiness–debts to society that Generations X and Y will someday be forced to repay. Those catastrophic blind spots aside, what pissed me off today was their blatant disregard for the future’s technology and the young people who have embraced it.
Most Republican candidates want no part of campaigning on the scary Internet, even though it behooves them to harness its powers. Rampant technophobia continues to undermine Republican fund raising efforts, despite warning from their younger, less ignorant supporters. GOP frontrunnners are way behind their Democratic counterparts in terms of the money they’ve raised, as Clinton and Obama each have received over $60M in campaign donations.
So widespread is the Republican party’s fear of the unpredictable Internet that its two top candidates Giuliani and Romney refuse to participate in the CNN/YouTube debates, scheduled for September. As ridiculous as these decisions are, even more pathetic are the bullshit reasons they’ve come up with to justify not participating:
- Giuiliani claims the debates conflicted with his fund raising schedule
- Romney simply says he finds the format “degrading.”
Yes, Romney seriously said that. Degrading.
One would think a man who wants to represent 302 million people would be a bit more upbeat about the prospect of interacting with some of them. Not Romney. He feels its disrespectful that citizens not preapproved by his cronies have the gall to ask him a question. The proper interaction between a candidate and his electorate, in Romney’s view, consists of the traditional charade whereby his campaign committees write questions beforehand to be asked by preselected actors posing as ordinary citizens. That way speech writers can prepare candidate responses beforehand, giving inarticulate politicians like Romney have time to memorize answers rather than actually having to put some thought into them.
Last week’s Democratic debates were the most watched debates ever by viewers under 35. Though Democrats submitted to the new YouTube format with minimal whining, it’s not surprising to see such bed-wetting anxiety from their opponents; after all, Republicans suck at answering questions that catch them off guard.
That the two Republican headliners would blow off the YouTube debates not only reveals their elitism but also shows how little they care about reaching younger voters. In fairness to the flailing GOP, Ron Paul and John McCain should be commended for the unwavering support they’ve shown for the new format of the CNN/YouTube debates.
It is disgusting that they hold the Net Generation in such low regard, but in some ways we younger voters have only ourselves to blame. That politicians are shady is nothing new., so of course they would be more concerned about voting citizens than they are about those who are apolitical. Through our shitty turnouts in past elections, we’ve set a precedent as a voting cohort whereby calculating politicians can reasonably presume they don’t NEED to care and thus write us off as statistically expendable.
One hopes this will be the election where our formerly apathetic generation pulls our heads out of our collective asses. Sooner or later American politicians will need to leap into the 21st century; the people who run this country must understand the technology that keeps it running. What kind of leadership can we expect from candidates so resistant to modern trends? Maybe this will help jog some of our memories: