A lot has been made about the so-called “Children’s Crusade” in the aftermath of Parkland. Supposedly it’s the turning of the tide on guns; this is the moment when we can kiss our gun rights goodbye.
However, the reality looks very, very different.
Two months of youthful activism in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre was expected to produce a bumper crop of teens registering to vote for the first time.
But in Tallahassee, the epicenter of the Florida protests, all the noise, speeches and carnival-like atmosphere have not produced a number of new young voters. The opposite happened. There now are fewer voters among the 18-25 age group than there were before the shooting.
According to the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office, there has been a drop of 690 registered voters in Leon County since Feb. 14 among the youngest voting-age group.
The number of vanishing youth voters grows larger the longer you look at voter registration rolls. Tallahassee, home to more than 63,000 students of two universities and a college has seen registration among younger voters drop by 4,673 since March 2017.
The vanishing voters could be a high school student who graduated, went off to college and switched registration to a Gainesville dorm. She could be a college graduate who left to pursue a career in Tampa. The voter could simply be someone who celebrated his 26th birthday.
Those are factors in producing the final number. But the “drop” remains striking when compared to the months leading up to the last mid-term election.
Between October 2015 and February 2016, Leon County saw an increase of 422 voters in the 18-25 group. Jump ahead two years later and the same four months show a decrease of 1,368 voters.
State data lags reports from the counties but in the first two months of 2018, Florida recorded a net increase of 51,013 in voter registration — a breakdown by age was unavailable.
In other words, David Hogg might be able to organize a boycott of advertisers on Fox News, but he can’t get his peers registered to vote. It’s telling as it’s a major factor in the efforts to supposedly stand against guns.
After all, lawmakers don’t really feel any obligation to appease non-voters. Remember that any democratic process, even in a republic such as ours, is essentially run by those who show up. People who aren’t registered to vote can’t show up, meaning a lot of the young people we’ve been told to fear.
That doesn’t mean to say they won’t get registered, mind you. However, if they were as outraged as we were told, it’s far more likely they would have registered immediately if they could. Yes, some are still waiting to come of age. The problem for the anti-gunners is that as time rolls on, anger wanes. People just don’t get as worked up as they had been, and that impacts their political positions.
Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s a slam dunk. It’s simply a snapshot of the reality as of right now in one state. Granted, it’s the state that should be ground zero for this kind of thing, but still.
Instead, look at this with some cautious optimism and keep up the good fight.