Don't Forget About Me... What It Takes To Get My VOTE 2012

Jamira Burley
October 5, 2012

In 2008, there was so much excitement surrounding the Presidential election it was contagious. For many, like myself, it would be one of our first opportunities to vote for the United States highest office: President. As a 20-year-old just starting my second semester in college, it turned into one of the biggest moments of my life.

Want my vote? Then engage me beyond election cycles. Create a space for me to be a part of the political process and talk about tangible solutions to issues that are impacting my generation.

Not only was there a black man in the race, but also a woman -- both of whom represented many of the issues I care about. But a lot has changed since that time when I stayed up late handing out flyers and giving up my weekends to canvass.

2008 felt so much more inspired by my fellow youth, as if we had a stake in prosperity of this country -- a country and government for which we will one day inheret. Four years have passed and there are many young people who are disenfranchised in cities around the country. Education has taken a back seat to corporate buyouts; the war on crime taking place in our backyards has been overshadowed by the one abroad. Those are just some of the problems we're facing

So now in 2012, excitement is no longer what I feel around the election. At  times I am even disheartened.  Though we have made some progress, there is more to be done. Every year, thousands of young people are being left behind. We can't just create more jobs-- we also have to educate the people who will fill those positions who make decisions. We can't just protect our boarders when there are people dying right here on our city streets.

Don't get me wrong -- I am not one to say that one issue is more important than the other.  But what I will say is that youth and youth issues can't just be addressed during election time, especially since young people make up such a huge demographic. Frankly, I think it's truly entertaining to watch candidates try to engage us every few years and then ignore the issues that are important to us, as if our memory is so short-term.

If a candidate wants my vote come November, then they have to prove to me that they can do more than give a great speech.  We as young people are not so swayed by the lip service. Instead, we are inspired by the actions. So do something.

Government is always telling us what has been done or what will be done on for youth. What about change that invovles youth?  We as young people are neither lazy nor uneducated.  In fact, we're the most educated generation this country has ever seen. So don't just ask us what we want you to do--please give us a chance to be apart of the change.

Want my vote? Then engage me beyond election cycles. Create a space for me to be a part of the political process and talk about tangible solutions to issues that are impacting my generation.

One way to do that is by creating Presidential Youth Council.  A Presidential Youth Council would advise the President and his/her staff on issues and concerns that impact more than 104 million people between the ages of 16-24 each day.  The council should also have a chance to give recommendations on proposed and current legislation.

This generation is no longer comfortable with waiting for change to happen-- we want to be that change. So when candidates are looking for their next pool of voters, remember that my vote counts, in addition to millions of other young people around the country. We don't just need an "adult" spokesperson, but also a listening ear.

My vote counts too!


Jamira Burley is a youth blogger for SparkAction. You can follow her on twitter @jamiraburley or read her personal blog at www.jamiraburley.com.

This was originally published by the Huffington Post. It is edited and reprinted here with permission.