Student Loaned

Kerry borrows youth voters for his campus Snoozefest

Students are like any other demographic. They want to hear how issues affect them personally and what a candidate is going to do about them. But politically, they're an invisible population, under-registered, under-represented, and under-affiliated. Clinton made his appeal to youth on the issues as well as on style, and was rewarded with a 20 percent spike in youth-voter turnout. In 2000, just 42 percent of registered voters between 18 and 24 cast ballots, versus 70 percent of those over 25. Kerry, facing a dead heat in national polls, already enjoys a 10-point lead among college students in the latest Harvard Institute of Politics poll because of issues like the Iraq war and gay marriage. He probably doesn't see the need to do anything special for young people besides be an alternative to Bush. He's dead wrong.

One audience member at City College, introduced as a 23-year-old social service worker from Chicago, asked Kerry, "How do we get young people involved in politics, since it's not a sexy thing?"

John Kerry works the crowd into a slumber.
photo: Cary Conover
John Kerry works the crowd into a slumber.

"I think it's sexy," answered a smiling Kerry. He talked about John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps, and his own national-service plan, seemingly content to use young people as a scenic backdrop for his nostalgia-rooted campaign. He figures the kids should be satisfied with an appeal to idealism, as he was in his privileged youth, and not be so rude as to ask what's in it for them.

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