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Apr 04

Why are Young People Not Involved in Politics?

Why are Young People Not Involved in Politics?

J. A. Gedra

As editor of a newsletter with the moniker of New Voice For Politics, I am frequently asked why so few young people are interested in politics. Many elder statesman and political consultants are flabbergasted by the apparent apathy of “kids these days.” Both political parties desperately call out to the next generation, but few seem to be in a hurry to return the phone call.

A perfect example of their lack of political engagement can be observed through two particular political organizations, the Young Republicans and Young Democrats. These two groups that most people have never heard of are supposed to be the place where 18 – 40 year-olds go to dip their toes into the political pool and develop into the leaders of tomorrow. To be fair, some of these organizations are more active than others: in particular, Manhattan, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and a number of cities in California and Florida have very active Young Republican chapters. But in most cities, these organizations are so miniscule that one needs an electron microscope to find them.

A good case study is the Louisville Young Republicans. Louisville/Jefferson County Kentucky had a population of 741,096 people according to 2010 Federal Census. Between the ages of 20 to 34, there are 153,743 individuals. If only 1% of this age group were to be active in the Louisville Young Republicans, 1,537 people would attend meetings. While 1% of their target age group seems like a reasonable goal, the reality is something else completely. The actual number of members at their February 2014 meeting was 7. There were actually more guest speakers than members, which was a little awkward for all involved.

There are a number of factors to explain why this organization has dwindled. Poor leadership, under the chairmanship of Andrew Schachtner, lack of regular meetings, and not working with any political campaigns probably have contributed to the withering away of this organization, but these are not the main reason for this group’s demise. The main reason why this group has shrunk is the main reason why most political groups remain small and insignificant, a lack of fun. People have work and school obligations, family demands, and a number of other requirements that they must attend to throughout the week. At the end of the day, they do not wish to do more work. No one has ever said after a long day, “if only I could knock on doors of complete strangers in order to pass out political pamphlets; then my day would be complete.” What they want is to do something that is enjoyable.

At this time, the Louisville Young Republicans are anything but fun. Chair Andrew Schachtner might as well be renamed Captain Buzzkill. Attend a Louisville Young Republicans meeting, and a person can directly observe the boredom. If a reader is unable to attend, one can achieve the same experience by painting a wall and watching it until it is no longer wet. But for those who can attend, be prepared and bring a pillow. The meeting starts with Andrew blabbering about something that most people could care less about, because it has little impact on anything that they care about. Most people cope by tuning him out and trying to come up with a suitable excuse to miss out on the next meeting. This is followed by a speech from some politician about some topic that is equally irrelevant to most of their lives. When the politician is finished, the gathering is over, people wake up those who have fallen asleep, and the group does nothing until the next fun filled meeting. It is simply shocking that more people do not come out for these lively extravaganzas.

Now, can every political activity be a fun filled party? Probably not; but some of them should be. When every group activity is boring, dull, and filled with drudgery, it should be no surprise that the only member left is the boring Chair, Andrew Schachtner.

If both political parties want to have people participate in their organizations, they need to make their events enjoyable. The current political meeting does not appeal to most people, let alone individuals in their 20s and 30s. Both political parties need to focus a little less on the political half of their name and more on the party aspect. If political leaders can bring fun into their organizations, they will start to bring in the next generation of voters.

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