Americans are not responsible

The American Idol season finale has finally given America some peace of mind; an ex-bartender named David Cook was crowned the newest American Idol. There were more than 97 million votes cast to determine this winner. Now this is all good and well for this David Cook fellow, but it’s somewhat disturbing on the whole.

More than 97 million votes for American Idol is definitely something the TV network and the show itself can be proud of. But the fact that people seem more interested in what is on their TV screen than what goes on in Washington, D.C., raises my concern. There were 122 million votes in the 2004 general election. Though the numbers seem high, they barely beat out the number of votes that American Idol received on finale night.

This idea that people have their priorities so messed up really bothers me. Such a small portion of society goes out to vote, yet you can ask most people, and they will have at least one favorite TV show.

Many people called up American Idol, wanting to punch in their vote and “make a difference,” but I can’t figure out if it is lack of interest, laziness or just pure ignorance that keeps a lot of people from going to the polls in November. Any way it is figured, the facts are sad.

The media era has brought us the opportunity to see the candidates for the presidency in our own living room. It’s a grand opportunity that was not present 50 years ago before the first televised presidential debate in 1960 drew more than 66 million viewers out of a population of 179 million. Yet involvement in the political process is not growing exponentially. According to Wikipedia, only about 46 million people (out of a population of 280 million) watched the first debate in 2000.

People of the younger age group do not vote in high percentages, and politicians know this. The oldest portion of society has the highest voting turnout rate, so these are the people politicians focus on because they can count on them to vote.

Regardless of how much a politician cares about his or her constituents, they care more about getting elected or re-elected. So they are going to focus on the people who will show up at the polls and get them a job. It may seem as if these politicians don’t care about the rest of society. But on the other hand, if the younger generation of voters doesn’t care enough to vote, why should politicians care about their opinions?

No reason. Why should they? Helping young people won’t help them. Instead of paying attention to their television shows, the young generation needs to get to the polls and show they care.

Student activism is important, but it is not getting people to vote. In 2004, the Federal Election Commission said less than 50 percent of people 18-24 were even registered to vote. The young activist groups show they want change, and yet what they don’t realize is that the majority of their peers just don’t care. They don’t care enough to get away from frivolous TV, read the paper or watch the news, and make an educated decision.

The younger generation is the future of this country, and their political involvement needs to increase. TV shows like American Idol can’t be more important than what is actually happening in this country. But how does one make people see this? Nothing short of a serious wake up call is going to change things. Americans need to realize that American Idol isn’t quite as important as selecting the next leader of the free world.