Young people and political involvement


in Politics, Rants, The environment

Howard Dean recently made some interesting comments about young people and U.S. politics:

“They’re very independent-minded. They don’t like politics. And they mistrust institutions,” Dean said in his characteristically matter-of-fact style. “I think our problem as Democrats is, we’re the head of the oldest party in the West, and this party is an institution that looks incredibly unattractive; not because of our ideology, ’cause that is attractive, and that is why they always vote for Democrats. But the Democratic Party means nothing to them because it’s an institution built by people like me who’s 40 years older than them.”

Dean believes the Republican Party blew a chance with these young voters. “The Republicans had a shot at these guys because these young folks are libertarian economically,” he said, “but the Republicans are so cast in racism and anti-feminism and all these other things that these young folks value.” And Dean’s assessment of the leadership of the GOP was withering. “Leadership in the ultimate is telling your own people that they have to do something that they don’t want to do,” he said. “There’s no leadership at all in the Republican Party. None. Zero. They’re all terrified of their monster that they’ve created, which relies on xenophobia and racism and all these other unpleasant-isms.”

I think it’s true that there is a conflict between generations, and that politics generally serves the old and rich. It’s hard to see a way out of that when the functioning of politics as usual makes young people apathetic more often then apoplectic.

If everyone could see 50 years into the future, I think young people would have the highest voter turnout instead of the lowest, and that older people would start making choices that will not so gratuitously burn up the futures of their children and grandchildren.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan September 12, 2017 at 12:56 pm
oleh October 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm

I wonder if part of the lack of interest as one is younger is from a basic distrust of parties.

At age 60, I have grown up with parties as the actors of the stage. But I am getting very tired of the partisan nature of these political parties.

Whether an idea is a good idea should not be based on with which party it originates.

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