Suffrage the Little Children

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Via TAPped, it seems that Howard Dean was the only one of the nine democratic presidential contenders who could find the time to attend the biennial Young Democrats of America conference this year.

I'm not usually one to get my boxers in a bunch over the tragic decline in political participation among Our Young People… but, man, you'd think these cats could at least make some token show of giving a damn.

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  1. I am sure lots of young Dems want their share of “free” shit. But since most don’t vote, the usual Democrat “Free Shit for Votes” equation is not in the canidates favor.

  2. “I am sure lots of young Dems want their share of ‘free’ shit. But since most don’t vote, the usual Democrat ‘Free Shit for Votes’ equation is not in the canidates favor.”

    Yes, but what those kids have to offer isn’t just votes, it’s labor. I was in college in 2000, and I couldn’t believe how many kids were willing to spend hours every day day postering and tabling for such an underwhelming candidate as Al Gore.

  3. Part of the reason young people don’t get involved in politics much is because they don’t yet have much in the way of a vested interest, except maybe for free college money. After you get a job, own property and have to worry about the schools you’re sending your kids to, then you have a lot more at stake in the decisions that come out of state, local and federal governments.

    Case in point, when I was younger I strongly defended in principle the right of property owners to do as they please with it. I still defend it in principle now, but I’d be pretty upset if someone put a garbage dump in next to my house because it would cost me tens of thousands in lost property value. That the market price of any given house is partially held up by zoning restrictions is no matter, because I still paid for it based on a value that included the benefit of laws banning undesirable things next to my home. If even a died-in-the-wool liberarian can feel nervous about this, imagine the average no-particular-ideology shmoe in this situation. Hence, it’s pretty apparent why young people ignore politics and older folks are more likely to give a damn.

  4. One more thing… the older you get, the more the interest increases (hence the huge relative voter turnouts from the elderly) because the less time you have left, the less tolerant you are of changing circumstances. Most people starting out in the workforce can deal with the fact that they may not get any social security, but for those already retired, it’s potentially financially devastating. (Not that it will be or needs to be, but the impact changes to SS can have on their lives is much greater because they’ve already made their decisions and choices based on a system put in place over half a century ago).

  5. It’s worth noting, though, that the demographic most opposed to privatiz… (cough) sorry, “modernization,” the over-55 set, is precisely the group that wouldn’t be affected by any of the reform plans on the table.

  6. As a member of the under 25 demographic (for 2 more weeks anyways), I think a big reason young people don’t get involved is because no one gives a rat’s ass about us and policies that affect us. Well, that and we have a lot of things better to do than vote as a bloc.

    I want to end the freakin’ Ponzi scheme, but let’s face it, the AARP can mobilize the “I’m old. Gimme, gimme, gimme” crowd a lot easier than any stupid rock the vote commercial can mobilize a group of 20 year olds.

    Young, single, non-property owners get the shaft for the most part. I make a good deal of money, for my age anyways, but I didn’t notice any change after the Bush tax cut because it was focused on middle-class families and the wealthy.

  7. True, Julian, that some old folks (or older folks) just have more conservative viewpoints (I’m using the ‘resistance to change’ definiton of conservatism here, not right wing) and will vote in such a manner on issues that don’t even effect them at all. It’s also probably due (at least with retirees) in part to the fact that they have the free time to go out and vote.

    Mo, I’m not saying that young folks don’t have strong opinions on a lot of political issues. I’m only 33 myself, by the way. But, as you pointed out, changes in laws seem to have the least impact on people without property or kids. As such, most people don’t start to feel the impacts of laws and policies until they have those things, and when they’ve invested time and money into something that the government has the power to threaten or benefit. All other things being equal, there’s also less experience with dealing with the government. When I was 25, I could do my taxes with a 1040 EZ form. Last four or five years I’ve had 25 page tax returns that I had to hire a tax preparer to help me fill out, because I don’t even know all the forms that can be or need to be filled out in order to minimize my tax burden. I still pay enough in taxes to pay the full salary of an entry level government bureaucrat at the end of the day. I may have paid a higher % in taxes when I was younger, due to the lack of deductions, but I pay more in taxes now than I used to earn when I got out of college. Think about that for a while. If you’re doing well, you’ll soon be facing the same irony in a few years.

  8. Do not forget that it would seem that for approximately all of human history, the young have never much had political clout. I do believe this is simply how human political systems work – you don’t just get started in politics at 18 and have the market cornered by the time your 20. It tends to take decades to really become majorly influential, if for no other reason then you need to be dealing with your own generation to make the most head-way, and this stacks the deck rather inevitably against the young. There is a reason it is the young which fight wars in non-ancient societies, and at least part of the reason is that they typically have no choice, say, or power in the matter anyway.

  9. What did the janitor say in Breakfast Club? When the VP mentions how scared he is that, “These are the kids who will take care of us when we’re old.” The response is: Don’t bet on it.
    Politicos better start paying attention

  10. From the way politicians pander to the elderly, the other 9 candidates are probably at the Grand Opening of the newest cemetary in South Florida.

  11. Plutark,

    But in your instances mentioned, that makes sense but for different reasons than I mentioned. Young people have rarely been involved in positions of power in any organization, basically because they’re inexperienced. However they still have political power (in the form of a large number of available votes) to choose who ends up in those positions in modern democracy. What’s up for debate is why they don’t seem to give a damn about using the power they have available to influence those who have great influence over how they live their lives. All other things being equal, you’d assume proportional involvement.

    Young people have always fought the wars, for the simple reasons that a) they’re more capable of it physically, and b) they’re too inexperinced to really come to grips with the fact that they can very likely die from it.

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