Kids today

Kids today

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter—we’re talking about voting, you pervs.

See, now that the top-of-the-ticket tag teams (executive branch division) are finally set, and the post-convention presidential sprint (a.k.a. America’s eight-week electoral steel cage death match) is fully engaged, there’s really only one question worth asking: Which voters are actually going to show up on election day?

Of course, turnout is always key, but this political season it’s become more crucial than ever, since Barack Obama has staked his campaign on increasing two particular voting blocs—youngsters and African Americans—to record numbers. At this point, it’s probably safe to say that the junior senator from Illinois has the black vote sewn up, and that his share of the presidential minority ballot pie will likely be the highest in history. But the Obama campaign needs more than that, and they know it—just as in the primaries, they’re counting on an unprecedented influx of new voters to put them over the top.

Sweet youth: Courting the kiddies worked for Barack Obama in the primaries, but can he turn the same hat trick twice?

In Virginia alone, over 100,000 folks have registered to vote in the last three months, and that’s on top of the 150,000 who signed up during the primaries. And a huge chunk of these suffrage-seeking newbies are baby voters—of the 49,000 who registered in August, a whopping 40 percent were ages 25 or under.

Sure, courting the kiddies worked for Obama in the primaries, but can he turn the same hat trick twice? The McCain campaign, along with local Republicans, are certainly doing everything they can to thwart this postpubescent political parade.

John McCain did his part by choosing the chipper, fresh-faced governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to be his White House helpmeet. Not only does she bring all of the smiling sarcasm and steely resolve of a Mean Girls cheerleader to help light up McCain’s lifeless campaign, but she also came prepackaged with a pregnant teenage daughter, thus securing the all-important diehard-daytime-talk-show- viewer vote.

As for the Commonwealth’s conservatives, their message to potential Obama acolytes is simple and clear: Voting can kill you! Well, O.K., not exactly—but certain Virginia officials have been less than effusive, to say the least, when it comes to encouraging new voters to exercise their franchise. The latest killjoy is Montgomery County Registrar Randy Wertz, who put out a press release warning Virginia Tech students that registering to vote in Virginia could jeopardize their dependent status, blow up their parents’ tax bill, and nullify their health insurance. With helpful advice like that, we wouldn’t be surprised if a sizeable swath of students decided to forgo the ballot box for a date with a beer ball.

Luckily, to help clear up the uncertainty, we’ve come up with an ingenious, totally foolproof test to determine whether or not the dewy-eyed youth of America will actually fight through their hangovers and manage to detour their collective walk of shame into the voting booth on election day: Ask Bristol Palin. No, seriously—hook her up to a lie detector, shoot her full of sodium pentothal, and ask her point blank if she’s planning to cast a presidential ballot.

Why her, you ask? Well, think about it—come November 4th, she’s going to be 18 years old, eight months pregnant, planning a wedding that (in a journalistic first) will be covered obsessively by both Roll Call and the National Enquirer, and almost certainly cursing the day that her perky, moose-shootin’ mom decided to enter politics. And, just in case you’ve forgotten, she also happens to live in Alaska, where a trip to the polling station involves two pairs of snowshoes, six sled dogs and an elementary school driveway the length of the Iditarod.

Trust us—if, in the midst of all of that, Bristol Palin is still motivated enough to vote, then Obama wins. It’s just that simple.

Kids today


In case you missed them, a number of eye-popping reports have recently been released on the sexual state of our (increasingly libidinal) nation. The most attention-grabbing, for all kinds of reasons, was a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention which revealed that one in four of America’s darling little teenagers has a sexually transmitted disease or infection. And this came hot on the heels of a previous CDC study showing that teen birthrates are on the rise for the first time in 14 years. Of course, the fact that this alarming explosion of STD-sharin’ and baby-makin’ among Generation Y (as in “Why’s it so itchy down there?”) just happens to coincide with the federal government’s decade-long, $1.5 billion push for increased “abstinence-only” sex education is just a meaningless coincidence, we’re sure.

Still, it’s a worrying trend, and so it came as no surprise that the wise old men of Richmond felt the need to take immediate corrective action…by slashing every penny of state funding to Planned Parenthood of Virginia, one of the few safe, reliable institutions that can provide contraceptives and medical care to sexually active teens.

Now, for the squeamish and vitriolic among you, a word of warning: If the very idea of a pregnant woman having a “shmushmortion” (as the movie Knocked Up so delicately put it) offends you, stop reading now. Because we’re about to wade into the incredibly contentious waters surrounding reproductive politics, and—as always—someone’s bound to get their knickers in a twist about it.

Anyway, the whole mess started in late February, when Senator Ken Cuccinelli—in a bit of political theater almost certainly designed to boost his run for attorney general next year—strongarmed all of his Republican colleagues into voting for his anti-PPV amendment. Although the Democrats enjoy a two-seat advantage in the Senate, they couldn’t stop one of their own (Prince Williams’ Senator Charles Colgan) from crossing the aisle to vote for it, as well. That defection resulted in a 20-20 tie for the amendment, at which point Lt. Governor Bill Bolling (no doubt looking to polish his pro-life bona fides) stepped up to vote “Yay!”

Of course, conservative Virginia lawmakers have a long history of pushing extreme anti-abortion measures (like Delagate Chris Jones’ recent attempt to felonize the ingestion of “any drug or other thing” to induce a miscarriage—thereby, one assumes, subjecting all women who have undergone the heartbreak of a lost pregnancy to criminal investigation), with little legislative success.  And so, the Assembly being the Assembly, it didn’t really come as a surprise when the Planned Parenthood funding was quietly restored by the budget committee.

Yes, you heard that right. After all of the sturm und drang and speechifying on the Senate floor, the controversial funding was slipped back into the budget by some mysterious hand in the dead of night. In righteous indignation, Lt. Governor Bolling immediately released a fiery statement that declared, and I quote, “I was very disappointed that the budget conferees did not include this language in the final budget agreement.”

Oh, wait—that’s not fiery at all. Hmm…it’s almost like all of this anti-abortion posturing is really just a cheap pose for public consumption, and—when push comes to shove—our elected officials aren’t really all that keen on denying vital health and disease-prevention services to Virginia’s (impulsively procreating) populace.

Well, whatever the reason, we personally applaud the decision, and sincerely hope that we don’t have to revisit this inane topic again next year.

And remember, kids: While we certainly don’t recommend it, if you simply must go out and dance in the rain, please don’t forget to wear your, um, little plastic bootie things, O.K.?