liberal children of the blogosphere: compose yourselves, please. your ire is making you say very silly things that i regret on your behalf. this is something, since im not a fan of your politics.
this is true. most young people i know who are involved in politics are not normal. theyre special and will not hesitate to remind you how special they are. cherniak concludes that the reason young people dont get involved in politics is because we have been indoctrinated since birth to mistrust partisan actors. heh. james bowie says the same thing, which is kind of creepy, no?
no, thats not why. it's because political participation and voting doesnt often fit in with their respective reflexive projects of the self. in other words, voting isnt cool because they dont see it connect with their lives and their identities. unless theyre not voting due to a principled opposition to liberal democracy, young people dont get involved in electoral politics because they arent media literate enough to understand the ramifications of the process. theyre too busy doing all that consumerist, status-seeking stuff dictated by whatever subculture they belong to.
in the land of political science, we also like to study political sophistication, which is our little name for the depth and organization of a person's political awareness. studies of political sophistication can be used for all kinds of fun, like predicting elections. some people take this crap too far and take brain scans while people answer polls. im not kidding and i didnt get this from orwell.
a lot of people out there will try to bastardize the "political ignorance is a rational choice" argument by saying that young people wont vote because their lack of capital or dependents means they dont see themselves having a stake in the process. based on my own interaction with peers, im more into another rational choice explanation. rational actors do not actively seek political information; therefore, most of their political knowledge is accumulated through inadvertent exposure to political information while theyre busy seeking and absorbing other information. ignorance of key political issues and personalities is justified by the voter's ability to construct answers and feel smart about them. one wouldnt really prioritize the retrieval of information on the specifics of the liberal childcare plan if one has already got strong opinions on social infrastructure or the liberal party.
i believe my peers lack political sophistication because theyre not seeking information that might cause them to stumble into some canadian political information. apathetic, non-voting, young people are usually pretty honest about the fact they dont know crap about politics. some of the kids i know who fit that description are quite apologetic about it.
what else do we do? we've paid celebrities to say voting is cool, we've put it in curriculums, we've got that newspaper and tv thing, it gets referenced on canadian tv shows (trailer park boys)... maybe our lack of attention span combined with our severe media illiteracy problem makes us young people more prone to construct opinions from whatever junk is rattling around in there rather than actually researching something. who knows.
and while we are on the topic of young liberals... this is just me being a huge bitch, but i have to say that every single young liberal ive ever known is devoted to the liberal party because they want something back from the party in terms of status and future gainful employment. maybe this is due to the fact the liberals have been in power since i was 10 and we children of the 80s tend to be self-interested, pragmatic, dreamers (such a paradox). political participation, for young liberals, is part of their self-image. it makes them feel all cool and full of potential.