November 1, 2010
has the administration let down young voters?
In today's New York Times, Damien Cave quotes me:
“[Young voters] were emotionally invested,” said Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. “Somehow that should have been turned into, for Democrats, a revival of progressive policy, and in a neutral way, a revival of democracy starting with young people.”
“So far, it hasn’t happened,” he added.
I agree with my own quote, but I'd broaden the picture with some additional points:
- The youth turnout rate (which CIRCLE will calculate by 10 am on November 3) will not prove that there was anything wrong with the administration's policies and strategies. We don't know if it will be higher or lower than the average for midterm elections, but it will probably be in the usual range. If it happens to be down from 2006, that can be explained in many ways, including economic factors.
- Some young people are engaged, perhaps more than usual for a midterm election (although that remains to be seen). And there is a robust and skillful movement of nonprofits, mostly non-partisan and mostly led by young adults, that has been working like mad to energize young people and that uses smart, tested strategies. So nobody should be saying that there is anything wrong with young people today or with youth voting organizations.
- But the US has the worst turnout of any major democracy, and the Americans who vote (regardless of age) are unrepresentative of the population. That is a serious problem that demands the attention of major institutions, which should employ creative, innovative solutions. Roughly $4 billion will be spent on this election, and very few of the people and companies behind that spending are trying to engage young people.
- The Obama Administration, to its great credit, expanded AmeriCorps and kept it strictly and truly nonpartisan. That's great, but it doesn't increase political participation. The administration has also done things for young people, like allow them to stay on their parents' health insurance. And the president has tried to talk to young people, on the Daily Show and elsewhere.
- But the Obama Administration has not tried to govern with young people, even though the Obama campaign won an election with young people. The lack of creativity, innovation, and investment seems disappointing.
Cave astutely notes, "Indeed, a look back at e-mails from Organizing for America as health care legislation developed does show a general approach that did little to focus on young people. E-mails dealt with telling supporters what to say, rather than asking for input — and as a result, many young people said, they stopped reading them." (That was also true of some of us not-so-young people.)
Young activists would have been, in general, considerably to the left of the president on health care, climate change, and Afghanistan. That means that empowering them politically would have posed a risk for the White House. If they had been asked for input, they would have said, "Single Payer!" and that wasn't going to pass.
On the other hand, there is a political risk to not getting pressure from your left flank if you're a Democrat. FDR said that leadership is deciding which pressure to cave to, and the lack of pressure from the left has hurt this president's ability to lead. Besides, I think the administration could have risked a dialogue with activists. Young people are fully capable of listening.
My final point: It's not over yet. Young people can vote on Tuesday---they have that power and that right, regardless of what polls may predict. And after the election, they can still play a powerful role in governance.
November 1, 2010 11:02 AM | category: none
"Progessive", as in Cloward and Piven?
"Progressive" policies are diametrically opposed to democracy. And by the way, we have a Democratic Republic, not a democracy in a true sense.
Did you read this from the article?:
“It’s not the fad anymore,” said Jessica Kirsner, 21, a junior from Houston and vice president of the College Democrats. “It’s not the fad to be politically knowledgeable and active.”
That's the future of our country in one sentence.
'Like, it's just not kewl to be politically knowledgeable and active. That's like soooooooo 2008'
Well, if this can happen, there might be hope for at least some of them:
"Even on mostly liberal college campuses, the arguments against Mr. Obama have become more common. “The other day, they were blaring Rush Limbaugh in the breezeway,” said Gaurav Dhiman, 20, president of the College Democrats."
This is from an assessment I wrote on my blog regarding the "youth vote" during the Obama campaign:
"It’s one thing to get excited about a presidential candidate. It’s another thing to live with the consequences.
There’s a similarity between the youth culture in Europe and the American youth in liberal college campuses, coffee shops, and Bohemian neighborhoods. All of them have been inculcated by left-over 60’s radicals who now fill the ranks of academic intelligentsia.
They’re gonna change the world, to hear them tell it. No more evil, rich corporations exploiting the poor, and best of all, no more war.
Everybody’s gonna hold hands and sing Kumbaya.
The angry batshit crazy muslims who rail against the great satan because American imperialism pushed them into killing 3000 people on this soil, will put away their bombs and ignore the passages in the Koran that tell them to kill all infidels in name of Allah.
After these children grow up and have to live and work in the real world, we’ll see how they react to the Obama-inspired system they helped create.
These ‘bystanders’ wanted all the glory without the guts. The unicorn-filled dreams of liberals have been trampled upon by the hobnail boots of reality.
Reality is a bitch.
November 1, 2010 4:03 PM | Comments (1) | posted by SFC MAC
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