Following in the footsteps of the Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, who recently texted the name of his running mate to his supporters, I decided to use texting to perform a highly, un-scientific (but interesting) social experiment and find out what teens think about the upcoming election.
I sent a text to everyone on my contact list asking for the three most important issues to them when deciding who to vote for in the election. The responses I got, or didn't get, rather surprised me.
I sent my message to over 160 friends. I received a total of 24 responses. The first thing that struck me is how many people didn't even respond. With everyone I sent this to entering adulthood during the next presidential term, I would think that more people would care about who would run the country during a very important period in their life.
Of the 24 replies I received, four of them were flat out, "I don't know." I received four more from people who treated it as a joke, with one stating an important issue being "how hot the candidate's wife is." One response even jokingly cited race as an issue, which, while it was said in a humorous tone is actually quite relevant in this election.
Two people said that they didn't care about the election or issues because they weren't old enough to vote. Finally, one said he didn't care because he doesn't deal with politics. These answers, along with the number of people who didn't even respond, disheartened me greatly because voting and electing officials to run the country is as important as ever, and my generation -- or at least based on my contacts -- just doesn't seem care.
I did get 13 serious replies and after tallying the answers, it appears that the top three issues for young people are: the economy (which includes the gas problem), the war and taxes. I followed up with a few of the people who answered about why these issues concern them.
Cory, 16, just got his license and is beginning to pay for gas. "Paying $50 to fill up my tank sucks," he said. But he also commented on why the economy is an important issue to him. "Our economy is falling to shambles. Our dollar is worth less than Canada's and is worth only about 75 cents in Europe. We need a president who will get us out of debt and strengthen our dollar."
"The war is an important issue to me, in the way that it is handled, not how quickly we get out. Obviously, I want us to be able to pull out of the Middle East, but only after the situation is fully resolved," said Derek, 17.
The other issue mentioned was the tax dilemma.
"I don't make much money," said Katie, 18, who is entering her freshman year of college, "and taxes really kill my paycheck. I don't like how the big and rich are getting the tax breaks, when the middle class and those who work hard for their money should be getting those cuts."
I will be able to vote for the first time in a presidential election and I am truly excited about this opportunity. However, looking around and seeing how many people in my generation don't care, makes me sad and worried for the future.
For those of us that do care, look for my next story, where I talk to a group of teens who care about the election and find out what they actually know about each candidate.