June 05, 2006

Youth apathy - where is the outrage?

Thanks to "Is America Burning", a great blog, for bringing this issue up in an article titled "Did Student Protest End With Viet Nam?"

I agree that it is disheartening to see this level of apathy in the face of the scandalous behaviour of the US government. Let me venture the following explanations:
1) Americans are very busy, especially those most adversely affected by the scandalous policies of the US government. It is very hard to survive at the bottom.
2) It IS very hard to get anything done in the US political system. With only 1.5 parties, there are no national political organization with a vested interest in challenging the system at its roots.

On the particular issue of foreign wars, though, there is another reason why the kids in the Sixties were more motivated to participate: the draft. No explanation necessary, is there? If there was still a draft army, there would be street riots in every town in the country by now.

If I would let my cynicism run free, I would add that political activism in the Sixties had a whole lot more "fringe benefits" than it does now. Free sex and free drugs beat free pizza (and even free beer) in getting the young 'uns to attend to a rally...

I'm sorry if it sounds a bit bitter or dejected. But the US never developed a functioning democracy, and is now paying the price. I just don't see any way to structurally improve the situation in a two-party system. It simply cannot work. Somehow, long-lasting, "full-service" third and fourth parties need to appear. Where can they come from?

1) Labour unions traditionally form the core support of a socialist party. But the US unions are weak and corrupt, and many Americans seem to be culturally allergic to socialism. Decades of indoctrination, no doubt, but hard to reverse.

2) Churches can form the core support for both leftist and rightist parties. But the US churches seem reasonably happy with the current situation. It is possible that dissatisfaction with Bush's poor results on conservative issues will lead to a break between the Religious Right and the Republican party. Perhaps the RR will then go on to start its own party.

3) Either the Democratic party or the Republican party can split apart in a centrist and one or two other parties.

Unfortunately, however a third party would be formed, it would still be faced with the fact that the entire electoral system is set up against its success.

So there you have it. There will be no lasting progress until there are more parties. There will not be more parties until the electoral system changes. And there will have to be a revolution in order to have the parties in power agree to change the electoral system ...

Hypothetically, what needs to be changed in the electoral system, you ask? Well, mainly the following:
1) Compulsory voting.
2) Proportional representation.

Chances that that will happen peacefully? Zero. The US will remain subject to yo-yo power politics in the legislative branch, leaving the real power in the hands of the executive branch.


Blogger Granny said...

Thanks for your comments. If I haven't already done it, I'll add you to our blogroll.

I have some ideas about your post which may become the subject of a post on isamericaburning at some point.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Sothis said...

Yup, the two party system has stagnated the American political environment. Nothing short of a revolution is going to change it. Add to that an apathetic, Veruca Salt "I want it now" young generation, and a enormous base of people mired in poverty and you get the post-industrial "fifth world" country--a country whose overreaching greed has resulted in the dissolution of the middle class: where less than 5% of the population owns and controls almost all the resources.

7:40 PM  

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