Happy Holidays! I hope your end-of-year festivities were full of friends, family, food, drink and whatever else it is that makes your heart cockles warm this time of year.
Now that we are turning the page on 2017, which was the most tumultuous year I can remember, we look ahead to what’s to come. I’m not much of a forecaster. I don’t have my finger on the pulse of what we can expect. I’m also not the kind of person who likes to make outlandish predictions… And honestly, I’m not really that hopeful that we’ll see much in the way of peace, love and understanding in 2018. There’s only one thing I know for sure that will happen in the New Year, and that’s that those of you who were born in 2000 (or most of you, anyway) will turn 18.
If you’re one of those people, I’m writing this to you. I’m sure you and I don’t have that much in common. You never knew a place without the internet (or even a year with the number 1 at the beginning). You didn’t know a time when the Atari wasn’t a kitschy throwback, but actually cutting edge home entertainment technology. It would probably be the arrogance of an aging man hoping to cling to some shred of relevance to think that I would have something to teach you. I could probably learn a lot more from you guys and gals than vice versa, but if you’re reading this, I hope you’ll take heed of what I have to say.
This year, you’re going to enter adulthood—sort of. You still won’t be allowed to legally purchase alcohol, or rent a car, or, seeing how expensive everything is nowadays, support yourself in any meaningful way. But you will be able to register to vote. And I hope you will.
I was really excited to get the right to vote when I was your age, and I’m happy to say that I’ve voted in every election since. And not just in the big ones like presidential and gubernatorial races, but even the shitty little ones that no one cares about, like the primaries, which in some ways are even more important.
Unfortunately, my generation has become pretty salty over the years. We’ve been apathetic and distrustful of our institutions. I’m not really sure why or how it happened, but it’s something that’s been boiling over for years. It probably wasn’t one specific thing or event that sent us over the edge, but the culmination of a lot of things, and then, when you were probably too young to remember, 9/11 happened, and I don’t think we ever really recovered. So much so that we’ve driven our country to where we are now: a bitter, divided place that seems to be teetering on the precipice of darkness.
I know that’s a tad dramatic, but, you know, this time of year always makes me emotional… Anyway, this is where you come in. And I’m not trying to put too much pressure on you, but this year is your chance to start making a better world now that you’re old enough to have a say in things. A lot of people who are a lot more informed than I am are saying that our upcoming Election Day 2018 is going to be an important one—perhaps the most important election in recent memory. Seats in the House of Representatives and Senate are up for grabs, and we could see dramatic swings in power in both houses of Congress. Or, we could just see more of the same.
Maybe you’re OK with that. It is a democracy after all—at least that’s what they say. It’s up to the public to decide the direction they want their government to take them. I think my generation kind of forgot that. I think a lot of us saw the government as them. They were the ones leading us into the shitter, and it didn’t matter who we chose, because they were all just a bunch of liars anyway. Maybe that was partially true, but we either didn’t know how or didn’t care enough to do anything about it. We just accepted it for what we thought it was and figured it really didn’t matter all that much. If we learned anything in 2017, it’s that it does.
It may or may not be too late for us to get our shit together (I’d like to think it’s not), but it’s definitely not too late for you. I mean, you haven’t even gotten started yet. You haven’t had to deal with as much bullshit and disappointment yet (though I’m sure you’ve had some). Maybe you’re not a cynical old fuck like me and you’ve got a head full of hopes and dreams and you’re ready to show this world who’s boss. I really hope that’s the case, and I really hope you do. One vote may not mean all that much, but it’s a start.
Make sure it’s a good one.