Open Education Open Education

No Wonder Our Young People Don’t Vote

I wonder if anyone recalls the original campaign promises. Back when George Bush would raise his right hand as if taking a solemn vow and announce he would restore “honor and integrity” to the White House if elected. Sometimes he would alter the phrase ever so slightly, making it “dignity and honor” or other variations of the same three words.

With today’s Internet, we can easily check on some of the original statements. How about Vice President Dick Cheney, August 2, 2000, offering:

On the first hour of the first day, he will restore decency and integrity to the Oval Office. They will offer more lectures and legalisms and carefully worded denials. We offer another way, a better way, and a stiff dose of truth.

Those were followed by the words of President Bush himself dated September 23, 2000.

Just because our White House has let us down in the past, that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen in the future. In a campaign that’s going to restore honor and dignity to the White House……”.

Lack of Ethics 101

By the time 2005 rolled around, those words seemed a distant memory. At that time, the indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice charges had seriously tarnished the view point that Bush might bring a higher level of ethics to the Oval Office. One poll taken at that time indicated that by a 3 to 1 ratio, Americans felt that honesty and integrity had declined under the Bush administration and the president’s 34% rating for ensuring high ethics in government was actually lower than that of Bill Clinton when he left office.

Fast forward to the year 2007 and the vast array of ethical issues that have dominated the headlines. There was Bush nominee Paul Wolfowitz as World Bank President, resigning under the pressure for his ethical lapses including authorizing a $50,000 raise for his girlfriend. Then there was the high profile situation of another Bush appointee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Whether it be the justices relieved of their duties for supposed incompetence or the push at the hospital bed of former attorney general John Ashcroft to sign off on illegal wiretapping, Mr. Gonzales’ oversight of the Justice department was fraught with a frightening lack of integrity.

There was the pardon of Libby, the request for immunity for phone companies that may have broken the law at the bidding of the White House and the latest, the investigation underway into tapes destroyed by the CIA, tapes that apparently showed interrogation techniques that most of the civilized world would express disdain for.

In between there was Matteo Fontana who had to be placed on leave from the Department of Education as leader of the loan office. In that case, Fontana owned more than a $100,000 worth of stock in a student loan company that received financial benefits from federal loans. There were also the convictions of two Bush appointees tied to the behavior of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. J. Steven Griles, deputy interior secretary and former White House aide, David H. Safavian, were both convicted of white collar misconduct.

The Will of the People?
The theory behind our democratic form of government is to elect officials to office so that they will do the will of the American people. These politicians are supposed to put their personal and family interests aside, even their former business connections so as to act in the best interest of the collective whole. Unfortunately what we are witnessing today is a long way from that theory. Conflicts of interest are evident every where one looks and individuals are actually using their elected or appointed position to further their own financial gain. In addition, loyalty to those who stand fast in the face of the scrutiny regarding potential wrongdoing also appears to be rewarded within the current administration. How else could the White House stand behind either Alberto Gonzales or Paul Wolfowitz for as long as they did. And think where the justice department would be at this moment, dealing with the destruction of evidence by the CIA if the department were still somehow under the guidance of Gonzales.

There is of course another critical issue currently at play for the Bush administration. The discussion of competency is one that could perhaps even trump the lack of ethical behavior. Surprisingly, the president actually thinks his tenure in the White House will be judged more favorably by historians down the road.

Given the extreme ethical transgressions, it seems preposterous that there will ever be a time when this presidency will be seen in a favorable light. I am sure that the ethical transgressions that are so troubling to most Americans today will only get darker as the future rolls in.

For teachers, the behavior and decision-making within the current White House makes it very challenging to fairly discuss politics with the next generation of voters. Walking the political line of fairness in a high school social studies class has likely never been more difficult than it is today. That is because the close examination of these ethical transgressions would be seen as nothing more than bashing our president.

However, our democratic process is supposed to lead our great nation in a direction that puts the proper people in the position to further the very ideals our country was founded upon. If we adults are thoroughly confused and shaken by what we are witnessing, imagine how difficult it must be for our children.


1 --Blue Girl { 12.20.07 at 2:54 pm }

Wow. What a terrific post! I get to sub in a rural school (less than 200 kids, Pre-K – 12 in one building, in a town of less than 500 people) once in a while. Last fall, I got a week and a half of high school history and made the most of it. I got to teach Constitution Day on Constitution Day. The kids were hungry for facts – you know facts – those things with the famous liberal bias? They lit up when I talked to them without talking down to them. It was a joy to behold. I am most likely going to go to the country place full time before the election so I can vote for Kay Barnes in the MO 06, and do my part to unseat Sam Graves.

I am putting you on my blogroll of interlocutors and fellow troublemakers, and I’ve already sent a link to this post to a couple of my blogging buddies.

Keep up the good work!

2 Couchmouse { 12.20.07 at 3:04 pm }

Nice article and 100% on target. Thanks for emailing the link to me. I have submitted this article to digg in their Political Opinion section.

3 Winter Patriot { 12.20.07 at 3:47 pm }

This is a good piece; and it’s a good start. But there are a lot of problems it doesn’t even hint at, such as:

* The Democrats — especially the national Democratic leadership — are complicit in the crimes of the Bush administration and are not worth voting for anyway, in the sense that they would not reverse any of the disastrous policies Bush has implemented.

* Our electoral system has been hacked beyond repair and in many cases (with paperless electronic voting machines) we have no way of knowing who actually got the most votes.

* The big media will not talk about these things or about any of the other extremely serious issues. Instead they focus on much more trivial things, so that it takes a major effort every day (and a fast internet connection) to find out what’s going on. Why bother doing all that work when your vote won’t count anyway?

4 Beth { 12.20.07 at 6:00 pm }

Why don’t my peers vote? Thats a damn good question.

I was 11 when the Newt Gingrich and his friends came to power. I was 13 when Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about oral sex, how benign that seems now. I was 15 during the absurd 2000 election, where the votes of the people literally didn’t count. I was 17 when Paul Wellstone died and that last flicker of true populism was extinguished. I’ve marched on Washington and seen the total lack of difference it made.

I honestly don’t remember a time in my life when politics was more “of the people, for the people and by the people” than about the game of it, the shallow power struggles. It doesn’t help that people my age are being sent off to die for a lie and the opposition party isn’t stopping it.

Whats the point of voting when both parties are so similar? When my vote might not even be counted? When people who run on stopping the war roll over when push comes to shove? When no one seems to care that the checks and balances we learned about in 8th grade Civics?

I see my peers roll their eyes at all this. Its absurd how shallow it all seems even when the results of it are so deadly serious.

5 Beth { 12.20.07 at 6:33 pm }

Looking again, I see I didn’t fully discuss what you asked me too in your email; how to teach these ethical lapses to children and teens. I’m going to think about this further and post about it on Sunday. I guess a bigger question would be, how do you carefully show children that the people in charge are imperfect, without coming off as political or letting them become too cynical?

6 Benjamin Steinke { 12.20.07 at 7:23 pm }

I really get annoyed when young people make EXCUSES for not voting!!!! The 18-35 generation needs to STOP WHINING and vote for Ron Paul!! You DO have a choice in this election, and if you elect Ron Paul in a landslide, no rigged voting machine in the world is going to keep him from winning the Presidency!!!!!!! The American youth is not “apathetic”—they just need to learn more about Ron Paul and then VOTE FOR HIM!!! Sorry, college students of the nation, but if you vote for anyone OTHER THAN Ron Paul, you are giving The War Party (composed of all the other candidates, whether Democrat OR Republican) permission to take over your lives. You young people BETTER vote in this next election, or you will have absolutely no one else to blame but YOURSELVES!!!

7 Benjamin Steinke { 12.20.07 at 7:30 pm }

The reason I made the “landslide” comment above is because Diebold voing machines can only sway the overall percentage by just a few points, give or take, but if Ron Paul (the ONLY candidate who deserves to hold the office of President) wins the nomination, and the Presidency, by a landslide, then the Diebold voting machines cannot be rigged to make it look like Paul’s opponent won, or the suspicion of rigging will be WAY too obvious. So, step up to the plate and VOTE for Ron Paul in 2008!!!! Don’t make excuses….DO IT!!!!!

8 VICB3 { 12.20.07 at 8:47 pm }

Ron Paul or Revolution. Your choice. Decide.

9 gary { 12.21.07 at 8:05 am }

Im a big paul supporter as well , but kucinich would be the best from the other half of the oligarchy, he has detailed plans of withdrawal at least, which is better than stay the course insanity.
what id really like to see if kucinich doesnt get dnc nod and theres a 99.9999% chance he want and ron paul doesnt get the gop nod and theres probably around a 85 % chance he want , is for them to form an independent party, the strategy i devised was that they call it the purple party : for 2 reasons, the purple fingers they used for symbology in iraq rigged voting and the coalescence of red and blue forming purple, countering the divisiveness that bush ran on in 00.
secondly other independent candidates could pledge that they would caucus under the platform of repealing all unconstitutional law starting in 1871 when the united states constitution was changed to make the 10 mile black whole of the universe aka dc into a seperate land from the rest of the usa, in other words the day the constituion was changed from we the people to we the corporation of the united states, want elaborate , its not taught in history , but do the research, really sinple platforms like repealing unconstituional law and holding the preceding administrations and their enabling congresses to be tried for treason and prove their innocence just like bush laws dictate, in other words use their own archaic illegal laws against them , then repeal them back to the original intent of the gift we were given by our forefathers.
imagine a campaign run on the cheap by giving away purple t shirts with instructions to wear them on election day if you intend to vote straight purple party candidates, wouldnt that be great voting and seeing 8 out of 10 voters wearing purple nationwide, well by polling i have taken , thats about what it would be. 2 simple platforms , repeal unconstitutional laws and treason trials for preceding living admins and their congresses and judicial appointees

10 gary { 12.21.07 at 8:31 am }

anyone know the candidates paul or kucinich? i dont either , i dont agree 100% with either , but they are the closest 2 to my views . if anyone does , go over my ideas with them, i did do a few polls and when you find a 100 people willing to give you an hout to explain , almost all agree with this plan to return our nation back to the people, think about it though, you give away 150 million purple t shirts that say im a straight purple party candidate voter , and watch 75 million of them show up on election day nationwide, you find independent candidates willing to pledge to caucus under these 2 simple platforms ,for every congress district and every open senate seat, and we can legally coup this out of control fascist regime that has stolen our country.

11 Don { 12.21.07 at 10:13 am }

people need to wake up and have a revolution in this country. 95% of our elected represenatives should be put up against a wall and shot. This country has not had a govenment that worked for the people since the 50’s. It is totally fascist in its operation. The media is complicit in the coverup. The floride in our water makes us stupid and docile. The nazies put floride in the water at the concentration camps for the same reasons. Lobbists should be illegal especially the Israeli lobby. Look at how those buildings fell, full of bombs. 911 was so obviously an inside job people are afraid to face the truth.

12 Jo { 12.21.07 at 4:40 pm }

SO POST MY POST ALREADY, then I’ll quit SAYING it! Where is your Contact Page? There’s something WRONG with this webpage. Someone PLEASE FIX IT!!!!

13 Jo { 12.21.07 at 4:47 pm }

I wouldn’t recommend voting for ANYONE running from the 2 headed monster corporate WAR Party nicknamed the DUOPOLY by the ONLY candidate worth voting for, RALPH NADER. They don’t represent or serve the best interests of anyone except their corporate puppetmasters. I would also recommend voting out ANY incumbent from Congress that voted us into this mess. If anyone needs an education, I’m here to help.

If you want change, you’re going to have to BE the change you want to see, and then VOTE FOR IT!

Vote your conscience, ALWAYS, and for the most principled person in the race. Just being a maverick isn’t enough. WHAT IS THE RECORD he’s/she’s running on, and the platform? Look at ALL the issues, and stay away from WEDGE issues like abortion and gay marriage. Do not be a ONE issue voter. Check it out, and verify your candidate’s qualifications and fitness for the office he or she is seeking. Vote for CHARACTER!

May what is happening to us now make us better people.

“If we make peaceful revolution impossible, we make violent revolution inevitable.” — John Fitzgerald Kennedy

14 thetruth { 12.24.07 at 9:36 am }

You are hilarious. They don’t count votes anymore, they just count the number of countries they will bomb next in our name. DIEBOLD ended democracy.
Any country that doesn’t allow peaceful revolution only ensures violent revolution.

15 Phil of the Future { 01.30.08 at 1:59 pm }

Beth, BlueGirl, Couchmouse, Winter Patriot and everyone,
Check out this site I just found and help them create the change and accountability you are looking for.

16 Stephanie C { 09.08.08 at 8:40 pm }

I am 23 and I am personally excited to vote in this election. I have voted in the past and I would agree that some young adults have a hard time getting excited about voting. Hopefully, in the future everyonje will get excited about this freedom that we have.

17 Tim Conners { 09.21.08 at 9:47 pm }

First of all, it’s not just about voting, but getting off your duff and participating in our political system. Do you know who your Senators are, your Representatives, your Governor?
You need to get involved. Finally, if you don’t vote, you lose your right to complain.

Leave a Comment