The lights flash around the auditorium. In an instant they stop and a video screen appears. It flashes scenes from the past four years, starting with the inauguration of Bill Clinton to Bob Dole campaigning against Clinton, the incumbent. All the key pictures include young people. Finally the images disappear and the auditorium is filled with darkness. A young woman steps to center stage and a spotlight comes on. Her calm, determined voice fills the room with a distinguished cry for action.
She begins by reminding the audience that approximately one-third of the population of the United States is under the age of twenty-five. Imagine, if you will, that they all moved to Australia. The loss of an entire generation would be devastating. There wouldn't be any talented people willing to make a difference.
Some would say: who cares. All they think about is listening to drug-crazed musicians, watching television, being interested in sex and having a good time.
Well, let's set the record straight ... we love music, having a good time, loving relationships and, of course "Friends." Who doesn't?
What's the problem then? It's simple: our generation does not recognize the enormous power of the ballot box. You claim that you want to make a difference and demand change; you cry out for a cleaner environment; you support social causes; your compassion for the underdog is unquestioned; you recognize the need for financial responsibility; you quickly point out all the things that are wrong with this country; and you still love her and are willing to stand up for her in a time of need ... and year, after year, after year you avoid voting for the very people who support your causes.
My friends, this is a no-brainer. There are candidates who support environmental issues and those that do not; those who demand financial stability for the future and those who do not. Catch the drift? Or do we need Ross Perot with his multi-colored charts to get up here and explain it all? Didn't think so ....
Excuses, there are many: it's raining; I'm not registered to vote; too much studying to do; waiting for my dog to come home; what election? who's running? it doesn't make a difference; I'm away from home. I don't know how to register to vote and what makes matters worse, I'm all out of number two pencils. Make your own top ten list for not voting and mail it to David Letterman, a registered, voting American.
Register to vote? Simple; register over the phone or make a quick visit to City Hall or many other convenient locations. Away at school ... get an absentee ballot and mail it in. Your vote doesn't count? Make no mistake about it: the guy who does vote makes all the difference in the world. Out of number two pencils? Give Ross a call, he'll explain it all.
The young woman walks off the stage and leaves the auditorium. Outside stands a voting registration booth. She waits patiently in line to register.
I am that young woman; I am America; I will make a difference and I will "rock the vote!" -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.