April 4, 2018

A Political Movement Among the Youth

Oct. 16, 1965, news photo: antiwar and anti-protest demonstrations, together on the University of Michigan Diag.Maybe Republican candidates should be worried about the youth movement, as Ted McLaughlin (Jobsanger) suggests. Many do not hold favorable attitudes toward President Trump, and there is some evidence that this is generalizing to other Republican candidates. The problem has long been that young people have been one of the least likely groups to show up at the polls (especially if they are also secular). As long as their outrage does not translate into voter turnout, politicians can safely dismiss them. Ted sounds optimistic that this is about to change and that the energy we've been seeing in some of the recent marches and protests can be sustained. I hope he's right.

Those of us who have been paying attention for more than a decade or two have seen many outbursts of political outrage. Some of them have fizzled out almost immediately, but others have turned into what could reasonably be described as movements. And while few of them accomplished much of what those involved said they wanted to accomplish, some managed to accomplish other things. In many ways, Occupy Wall Street could be considered a failure; however, I'm not sure Bernie Sanders presidential campaign would have happened without it. And while that could be considered a failure in some obvious ways, it is hard to deny that Sanders had an influence.

In any case, I think we are long overdue for a serious youth movement along the lines of what happened in the 1960s. Still, I'm trying to be cautious about being too optimistic that what we are seeing now will turn into something this transformative. It seems like it will have to turn into something far more than opposition to Trump or a desire for improved gun legislation. And I still think that one of the key lessons from 2016 has to be that having good candidates and a compelling message is still important. "Anyone but Trump" didn't work before, and I don't expect it will work next time.