I’ve been listening for far too long to people complain about young people’s lack of involvement in politics these days. I, for one, am tired of it. It’s really not all that difficult to understand why we’re not very involved, and sitting around whining about it isn’t doing anyone any good.
In my opinion, young people aren’t involved in politics for these reasons (a list which I’m sure is incomplete):
1. They don’t really see it as important or how it affects their everyday lives. Depending on the age group we’re talking about here, they’re either in college or working jobs making somewhere around minimum wage. They don’t give a flying crap about taxes and that’s what politicians are constantly blathering about. Few people in their late teens or early twenties are really sitting around contemplating what life might be like when they have a “real job” and/or a family.
2. They are completely disillusioned about government. While they probably won’t all tell you that government doesn’t work, they will all tell you that politicians don’t. If you’re a democrat in a republican state, what motivation do you have to go out and vote? Moreover, if you’re not going to vote, what motivation do you have to research the platforms on which the candidates stand?
3. They’re dealing with lies from all over. Think about it for a second. They’ve grown up in a world with constant advertising (lies) and 24-hour news (which barely has standards) and politicians who constantly say one thing and do another. It’s like a game to see who can fool the most people and they’re tired of being fooled. They don’t feel like they can trust or believe anything any more.
4. The general attitude is “how can you help me?” And really, politicians today don’t seem to care a whole lot about the younger generation. Half the time, when they go to volunteer or try to get involved, they’re treated like children or as though they’re stupid. Why bother?
5. In today’s world, all they get to hear is the people on both ends of the spectrum shouting at each other. If you’re a democrat, you must be an elitist who just wants to rob everyone of their money. If you’re a republican, you’re probably stupid and full of hate. What these extreme people fail to take into account is that most of the country lives solidly in the middle and you don’t get anywhere with anyone by calling him or her stupid.
Is it any wonder, then, that young people have decided to just stay home? Even just recently, they came together to support Obama and he was elected with a pretty serious majority. Then he got into office and didn’t really bother to do much of anything he said he was going to do. He lied to get elected, making him no better (or worse, for that matter) than the rest of those politicians. And if he thinks he’s going to fool them again, he better think twice. The younger generation doesn’t like to get burned.
Since I’m 30 years old, I don’t really feel like I can count myself in the younger generation, but I do share some of these frustrations. I’m tired of the status quo, but I’m not sure what to do about it, since elections now are simply about who can raise the most money and not about who can do the right thing. We can’t even agree on what the right thing is.
I just listened to some men on the radio puzzling about this very topic. One suggested that the way to get to the young voters is to use their technology. He suggested something with video games. This is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard. Video games and reality television and trashy magazines are not the solution, they’re part of the problem. No, I don’t think all video games or all television is bad. I just don’t think that the answer to this problem is to have more propaganda thrown at young people through these mediums. Why not try to inspire them to ask questions and research answers? Why not try to get them involved and off the couch? Why not ask THEM what they think?
This isn’t the ’60s, unfortunately. Even peaceful protests have been busted up by the police, despite being protected by the constitution. People are so comfortable with their hate and ignorance these days. I’m still appalled at the rampant racism this country showed when a black man was running for president. My Aunt Dana swore that Hillary should have won the nomination because, historically, “white women have won battles before black men.” I disagreed at the time and I still disagree. After all, it took another 50 years for women to win the right to vote, after a constitutional amendment was passed prohibiting the denial of a vote based on race.
This “bipartisan” thing just isn’t working. The catch-22 of being a democrat is this: Your republican opponent will do whatever it takes to win. If you do the same, you will lose. I’m not sure how we got here. How one party can spew false information and use fear as a weapon and kidnap patriotism is beyond me. I would never vote for a candidate who blatantly did those things. Republicans? Is this really what you want? Is it just about winning? What happened to that morality you preach? Democrats are seen as weak, as “pussies,” when they don’t engage in the same behavior to win. But if they did, would we vote for them?
Don’t get me wrong, in my opinion, at this point, a politician is a politician and the whole lot of them are bad apples. I think it’s the unfortunate nature of politics that makes this so. Especially since we’ve allowed corporations to rule our politics and rule our elections. If you donate enough money to the winning (or even losing) candidate, you can be assured that you now have carte blanche to act in whatever unethical manner makes you the most money and hurts the most people and that candidate won’t be able to call you out at all. You may even get a pass from that candidate’s entire party.
Is this really how I want to live? No. But what can I do about it? I’m honestly stumped. I’m just one person. I try to do the right thing. I try to live my life in a kind and responsible manner. Am I going to change the world? Probably not. But I know that I’ll be able to sleep at night. Do you?