PORTLAND, ORE. — As the presidential candidates battle down to the wire, scratching and clawing for those crucial undecided voters, it seems astonishing that one group of Americans has decided to abstain from the whole process. Recent news stories have reported that political apathy is rampant among the MTV crowd.
For a variety of reasons, many people in the 18 to 25 age bracket do not feel motivated to jump on anyone's bandwagon. Obviously, mere slogans like "Rock the Vote!" are not going to snap this Generation Next out of the demographic doldrums.
If we want all the wallflowers out on the dance floor in future campaigns, the whole system may have to shake, rattle, and roll in order to be more inclusive. And before you dismiss my suggestions as silly and unrealistic, keep in mind how quickly and drastically political practices have changed during the past few years. Back in 1988, the idea that candidates for a national office would covet the opportunity to banter with Jay Leno, David Letterman, and other late-night TV hosts would have seemed hilarious. Who's laughing now? The times are a-changin' at a very fast pace.
This subject should be given serious consideration at the highest levels of authority. Every democracy needs a dynamic foundation of support. We must find ways to energize our youthful electorate and make them feel like valued participants in the new paradigm. Here are a few simple suggestions that I believe would make politics a little more hip:
* An Upcoming Inaugural Ball features special guest appearances by Indigo Girls, Everclear, Fountains of Wayne, and The Goo Goo Dolls.
* Ballot stubs or other proofs of voting can be used for Biggie Size meals at Wendy's or to receive 10 percent discount on all rentals at Blockbuster Video.
* CNN launches nightly Youth World Roundup anchored by "Wolfman" Blitzer.
* Congress designates the last Friday of every month as "Grunge Day."
* The White House basement is named as the location for next round of "Survivor."
* Rolling Stone magnate Jan Wenner is hired to supply music and movie reviews for a hipper, livelier Congressional Record.
* All members of Congress are guaranteed at least one guest role per season on "The West Wing."
* The Washington bureaucracy relocates to Daytona Beach for two weeks in April and the president declares National Spring Break.
* Republicans adopt a new, snappier slogan. GOP will officially stand for "Get Out and PARTY!!!!"
* World Wrestling Federation is given control of presidential debates; WWF requires running mates to compete as tag teams in a winner-take-all "Texas Death Match."
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society