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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Youth Gone Mild

While cruising through some of my favorite blogs this afternoon, I came across this piece from Samurai Frog that sheds an interesting light on the Massachusetts special election that I don't think I've seen covered anywhere:

What interested me was the youth voter turnout, or rather, the lack of it. Something like 15% of voters under the age of 30 showed up to vote. That's... wow, that's like nothing. Some of the people I'm reading are positing that this is also going to be disastrous to the Democratic Party because, the stereotype goes, young people favor Democrats. The implication has been that people in their twenties are so disillusioned with President Obama for not pushing through health finance reform that they're not going to turn out to vote. I think that's only partially the case.

And while SF's piece delves into a more cynical view of who and what political figures really are - and trust me, from time to time I feel this way myself, though I do hold out hope now and again - the overriding thesis within is true: Obama needs to get his hands dirty. But more on that later.

The youth vote in Mass could very well be more of a signifier to what will happen not just in November, but in 2012 as well. As previously shown here, Scott Brown's election was no referendum on healthcare reform specifically and not on the Obama agenda generally. The youth vote simply wasn't there for either Brown of Coakley, which says that to me that neither of them had anything to offer in the way of political or social change. The younger people of Massachusetts just weren't interested because over the past year there as been more talk than action.

It appears that Obama is starting to realize that he needs to take a more active roll, but is it too late? We'll likely see tomorrow night during Obama's first State Of The Union. And while some within the conservative community are already hyping this up as "just another speech", I'm beginning to wonder who's going to take the opportunity to "Pull A Wilson" and make an abject fool of themselves.

I'm getting off track.

The younger generation today desires action - they look at politics from a unique perspective that demands a faster pace, a quicker step, and more solid results. Unfortunately, that isn't how Washington works. When people hear talk of fundamental change, they think that big things are going to happen fast, but they don't. The reality is that the legislative process is slow and rather uneventful. We get the highlights every night and don't have to deal with all the "edited footage" - that's where pundits and commentators come in and speculate. And that, more often than not, create more confusion that realization.

Unless you're a Tea-Bagger, you know that the change that we voted for is slow in coming. It's on the horizon and we can almost touch it, but will it be the same once we get up close and can smell it?

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