The Saturday edition of the Rocky Mountain News featured the proverbial quadrennial story about the energized youth vote. Do we have reason to believe that more young voters will cast their ballots this year? I don’t know.
But one of my young free market friends astutely suggests that the state of the economy has re-engaged many of them:
Wesley Dickinson, a 30-year-old Denver engineer, thinks the economy is forcing people near his age to confront politics more so than at any time since the 1970s economic downturn created a generation of Reagan Republicans. Since then, people have been able to live relatively comfortably and didn’t care so much about what the government did; that no longer is true, he said.
“They haven’t had to worry about the economy like our parents did,” said Dickinson, a limited-government supporter who has had a keen interest in such things for many years. “The economy’s been booming in general steady growth. And now we’re getting into the first election times where people are scared.”
Another major uptake of the story is how technology has facilitated activism. Again, from two of my young free market friends (and, in this case, co-workers):
And it is precisely because younger people can do almost anything in front of a computer monitor – organize a campaign event, donate money, air their opinions on a blog – that they are newly active, Justin Longo said. In the days of door-knocking and phone-calling drives 20 years ago, it was hard to hold down a full-time job and be an activist. Now, people of any income level and any work schedule can do so at any time.
“I’d like to think that without the Internet we would be so active. But I doubt it, because the costs of activism are so low this way,” said Longo, 26, who is a “Web monkey” with the conservative Independence Institute in Golden. “With only a few key strokes, you put yourself in the role of an activist.”
Internet users can find meetings or activities very specific to their peer and interest groups. This is how the postcard parties are organized. It’s how 26-year-old Amanda Teresi founded Liberty on the Rocks, a group of free-market backers that gathers at bars twice a month in the Denver area to discuss politics or watch the presidential debate, as members did last week.
No matter the results of this current election, the shape of youthful political activism has gone through a major revolution.