Independence Day: Here’s How You Get More Americans to Vote

By Jamie Merisotis, CEO of Lumina Foundation, on Fox News Opinion

Independence Day gives us an opportunity to celebrate AmericaÕs birth as a democracy. This year, it also should spur a redoubling of efforts to uphold that system of governance, whose well-being is at greater risk than weÕve seen in decades. Indicators of AmericaÕs flagging democratic engagement abound. Voter turnout plunged to a 72-year low in the 2014 midterms, hitting a floor seen last during World War II. And the next generation of voters tends to be particularly apathetic, despite their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. More than half of 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed in a 2013 Harvard Public Opinion Project said they would replace every member of Congress if given the chance, but only half of those disgruntled Millennials said they planned to vote in the 2014 midterms. Americans also show signs of disinterest in how their democracy works. Only 36 percent are able to name all three branches of government, according to a 2014 Annenberg Public Policy Center poll. The reasons behind this democratic lag are myriad, but one contributor is clear. America is losing its edge when it comes to talent Ð- the knowledge, skills and values that lead to success in our lives and careers. Talent is what helped establish our democracy and birth a nation of great innovators, entrepreneurs and can-doers. ItÕs also a key factor in a personÕs ability to improve his life prospects. Maintaining that sense of opportunity for upward mobility is an integral part of sustaining a thriving democracy. Signals abound that weÕre in the midst of an early talent decline. A recent survey of companies in the Inc. 5000 showed that 76 percent of CEOs say finding qualified people is a major concern Ð largely because so many candidates lack the knowledge and skills needed for todayÕs jobs. And because so many young Americans are not armed with the tools necessary for the 21st century workplace, itÕs also taking longer for young adults to reach financial independence. The median age for hitting that tipping point has increased over the last three decades from 26 to 30. ~1@BODYURL[id=114jbcurl1341]@