Guest: Veronica De La Garza, Executive Director, Youth Vote Coalition I was hoping for the best but expected the worst. It started on Wednesday night. A friend called me to say that he had just seen WWE’s Smackdown Your Vote wrestlers on Hardball and they were amazing. He could not believe how articulate and passionate they were when discussing politics and debating on issues of concern to young people. Hmmm…..I started flipping through CNN and MSNBC and my heartbeat was up! Behind all the anchors, on location at the University of Miami, are young people. A lot of them!
They are excited, jumping up and down, holding Bush, Kerry and Nader signs, and we still had 22 hours to go. I was excited, but scared. I stayed up watching the pre-debate coverage. I couldn’t help it. Behind every anchor were tons of young people and only young people. Young people excited about the candidates, about the debate. The group that has been labeled as apathetic for years is on my TV screen. MSNBC is reporting on how hundreds of the University of Miami students wrote essays in hopes of winning one of six tickets to be in the audience of the debate. There are 48 Million 18-30 year olds and they are 23% of the voting age population.
I cannot help but be proud of the work our Coalition members have done to register young voters. I know that we will meet our goal. 20 Million young people will be voting on November 2, but I also know that young people want the truth, no dancing around questions. They were going to watch the debate, but what would happen if the debate was not a debate but a 90 minute scripted commercial? My fear brought me to my starting statement, “I was hoping for the best but expected the worst.” After Jim Lehrer asked his first questions, I breathed. And as I watched the 90 minute debate I smiled because I agree with Rich when he wrote, “The pundits were proven wrong, the candidates did engage, and the people won.” Viva clash!