Aug 212011

In an op-ed column that appeared in the Washington Post at the end of June, “The Nuge” ripped our generation for not standing up and protesting against the impending doom that will surely come at the hands of our nation’s reckless spending and the ineptitude of our elected leaders.

Speaking about today’s college students, Nugent said, “I am stunned that they are not participating more in the Tea Party, even rioting in the streets, clashing with the cops, conducting sit-ins at their colleges, interrupting political events and so on. Instead, the young people of this generation appear to be sound asleep, lethargic and seemingly unaware of how badly their generation is being royally abused by the deep-seated corruption and abuse of power in the government. They appear to be terminally stoned on apathy.”

Considering that Nugent was roughly our age during the 1960s, arguably the most tumultuous political decade in recent history, he does have a unique perspective of what it means for young people to be politically engaged.

Just because we don’t occupy CSU’s administration buildings doesn’t mean we can’t be engaged, though.

While I’m willing to concede that Nugent actually makes some good observations, his statements show just how out of touch he and his Tea Party confederates truly are.

Why don’t we interrupt political events? Maybe it’s because we saw all those angry former-children-of-the-60s incoherently screaming down their representatives at town hall meetings during the health care “debates.”

Showcasing their utter lack of civility and their own stubborn, willful ignorance, it was amazing to see so many Medicare recipients line up to voice their violent opposition to government sponsored healthcare. I think I missed the broadcast where they all lined up to burn their Medicare cards.

It’s not our apathy that keeps us from joining the ranks of the angry, pasty masses in the Tea Party. It’s that the Tea Party doesn’t even come close to representing the thoughts, wishes or ideologies of today’s youth.

In fact, the Tea Party doesn’t want us to engage politically. Young people went to the polls in droves during the 2008 presidential election cycle. The result was a landslide victory for President Obama, as clear an indicator as you can get that we have no interest in advancing the agenda of fear and misinformation put forth by the Tea Party.

“I am not impressed with this generation. They are being led to their own slaughter and are blindly following along instead of fighting for their own survival,” Nugent said.

It’s not even our apathy that truly bothers Nugent and his like-minded compatriots. It’s that we don’t subscribe to their particular brand of anger and paranoia concerning the government.

Obama’s message of hope and change resonated with the youth of this country and energized a group of voters that is, admittedly, typically too lazy or apathetic to get out and cast their vote.

The problem wasn’t electing Obama, though. The problem was that this same group of voters was largely absent during the midterm elections when the Tea Party and their adoptive parents, the Republican Party, made huge gains in the balance of power in Congress.

President Obama’s message couldn’t possibly be put into action without help from Congress. Since the midterm election, it’s been politics as usual in Washington with both sides striving to thwart the opposition at all costs without any concern for compromise. When it’s all about scoring political points and not on actually fixing any of our ever-growing number of problems, real change can’t possibly occur.

In order for our voice to be heard, young voters have to make a commitment to flock to the polls at every single election. On Nov. 1 of this year, Fort Collins voters will decide whether or not to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to continue operating within city limits.

Like it or not, the youth in Fort Collins are the lifeblood of this town. The university makes Fort Collins the amazing town that it is, and it would be a shame if the CSU community stayed away from the polls on this day and allowed our voice to go unheard. If you haven’t already, make it a point to register to vote as soon as possible so you can have a say in this issue.

Nugent and the Tea Party should be careful what they wish for. It’s our apathy — not our engagement — that has allowed such a small but vocal minority to control so much of the debate and the national spotlight.

Joe Vajgrt is a senior journalism major who loves tea, just not enough to party over it. His column appears on Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

 Posted by at 3:49 pm

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