Youth and Politics (Again)
Young people have had a difficult time becoming interested or involved in politics for a long time. Mine is not the first generation to be apathetic by any means. But I feel that my peers, and those in the next batch of young people, are facing even more disadvantages in understanding, relating to and finding an interest in politics.
I have already discussed the lack of foundational education in schools. The other huge problem that I see with politics today is the way in which this particular regime runs their office. The Bush administration alienates, isolates and manipulates, and while I'm sure the adults in this country feel it as well, it is most detrimental to those being raised with this as their first exposure to political America.
When George Bush "borrowed" the 2000 election from Al Gore, I was in eighth grade. My biggest concern at the time was whether they would find a replacement for Ikaika, the rogue, departing member of O-Town on Making the Band. By the time I had really clued in that I should be paying attention, September 11th was long past and the war in Iraq had already began. It's like my generation woke up, and our life decisions were made for us. America is at war and hey, would we like to sign up to go to Iraq indefinitely? US/World relations have been shattered, the economy is shit and the President conducts his business either in secret or with a blatant disregard for any rule ever established in America.
This feeling of paralysis and helplessness is rampant in all demographics of America's society, but hits the hardest in the younger population. It takes a real effort to understand what's going on in the country, and once you've figured it all out, you wish you hadn't. Making the Band is still on the air (with Diddy at the helm, no less!) and my generation is still young enough to simply retreat to what is socially acceptable and intellectually easier - celebrities, television, movies. We might question the ethical implications of looking at pictures of Tara Reid's dress falling down, but it beats thinking about the part our country has played in the deaths of innocent Iraqi civilians in a war that we cannot understand.
But all hope is not lost. Even if they are doing it in bizarre, misguided ways, politicians are reaching out to young people. From YouTube debates to Barack's ring tones to Dennis Kucinich's Myspace page, they are trying to capture the attention of an otherwise uninterested demographic. And while I might criticize and question the effectiveness, they are better than what the current administration is doing. I can only hope that whoever is elected in 2008 recognizes the delicate situation they are walking into in regards to the country's youth.