JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 9592

Thursday, 20 October 2016 08:26
Unplugging of America: Young adults turned off by political system, why?
Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)

UNPLUG americaDo young voters really care about who runs their local, state and federal government?  Whatever buzz inspired younger voters to support Barack Obama has been severely diminished by the gridlock in Washington.  Voters under thirty (and the rest of us, for that matter) have witnessed conflict and partisan politics while the economy languishes and major problems go unresolved. The idealism of youth is being replaced by a cynicism towards those in charge, and this includes from the President right down to the local level.

Software pioneer Tim O’Reilly talks about voter disconnect in TechCrunch magazine, where he writes: “Too often, we think of government as a kind of vending machine. We put in our taxes, and get out services: roads, bridges, hospitals, fire brigades, police protection…. and when the vending machine doesn’t give us what we want, we protest. Our idea of citizen engagement has somehow been reduced to shaking the vending machine.”

This vending machine analogy is a good one.  Not only do you often not get what you want, both the machine and government have made the decision of just what you can buy or get in the first place.  You are at the mercy of the information that the system allows you to have. 

Freedom of information has been a hallmark of American democracy since the nation’s founding.  Make the information available, and then let the public decide. In the ‘70s, when I served as a Louisiana State Senator, I authored and enacted into law what at the time was considered to be the strongest open meetings and public records legislation in the country.  And today, we have the technology – the Internet, the huge online databases, and the cloud — that should make access to this information we need to make good decisions about our government so much easier.

But in spite of the advanced technology, questionable barriers have eroded the access to public information.  High copying fees, long wait times, locked government data bases, the refusal to produce requested documents based on bogus security issues, and capricious personal decisions have thwarted the public’s right to know. 

Many of these obstacles are put in place by public officials wanting to conduct their business in secret.  Many citizens, particularly the younger, more idealistic voters, are turned off by what they see as political cynicism.  They rightly feel that the information is paid for with their tax dollars, and that they have the right to see it.  Too many elected officials are offering only the vending machine, where in a world of the cloud and other advanced technology, most of this information should be easily available to whomever cares to access it over the Internet.

A number of younger voters have told me they feel the agenda of most bureaucrats and elected officials is to keep the status quo.  One young woman put it bluntly:  “Look, we’re all into networking and building businesses with new technology.  Most of us see government not as a help, but as a hindrance.  We just need for them to open up their information base, then just get out of the way and leave us alone.”

Another young man asked, “where’s the innovation, where’s the creativity in government?”  He quoted Einstein’s thoughts that Imagination is more important than knowledge.  “I have a number of bright, imaginative friends that are doing some really cool things and creating value,” he said. “Where’s the vision in the public sector?”

Knowing that I’d been Louisiana’s chief elections officer as Secretary of State back in the ‘80s, some young voters zinged me over the archaic election process, “You can do about anything online at home, around the clock.  You can text, call an 800 number to vote on American Idol.  But voting?  Long lines, limited time, hanging chads; why so many barriers?  That’s so last century!” 

What these young people are saying is that the boundaries need to come down. No more toleration of the vending machine.  Make government a two way street.  Let technology put many decisions — more power of government — in the hands of citizens. Will this inspire younger voters back into the participatory fold?  Right now, there seems to be a lack of younger voter enthusiasm for any candidate. We will know on November 8th whether they care enough to go vote.



“I’m not afraid to shake up the system, and government needs more shaking up than any other system I know.”

Former Texas Governor Ann Richards

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.  You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9:00 am till 11:00 am Central Time on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.

Jim Brown

Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.  

Website: JimBrownla.com
Login to post comments
  • A July 4th Fact of Facts: America is Land of Immigrants
  • Poll: Trump strong on jobs, weak on tweets, viewed as reckless, thin-skinned, sexist
  • President Trump, It doesn't feel like Independence Day
  • YIPPIE! The naked truth about free speech, cherished especially on Independence Day

mass2On July 4, 1778, George Washington doubled liquor rations for the soldiers quartered in Princeton, NJ, as a way to celebrate Independence Day. It’s fitting, therefore, that the Fourth of July is America's top-selling beer holiday, according to the Beer Institute. It estimated, in 2013, that sales of beer on the 4th could total $1 billion, doubtlessly higher today. “In moderation,” claims a CA brewery investor, Grover McKean, “beer is tasty and healthy.” Who could disagree?

Read More

joe mikaAs Donald Trump faces the top world leaders this week, including a face-time with Vladimir Putin, and as his healthcare proposals face an uphill climb, his poll numbers for how the nation views him could be better.

According to a morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday morning, his tweets, including that against MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, and his personality are not helping him, at all.

Read More

indy dayII know the calendar says we are approaching the 4th of July, but, it just doesn’t feel like Independence Day.

Perhaps it should.  It’s hot as heck.  The airlines have been packed. The hot dogs are ready for grilling.  The umps are saying, "play ball". The patriotic activities are scheduled. The fireworks are ready-for-blasting. 

Yet, it just doesn’t feel like independence day.

Read More

bill rights2To President Thomas Jefferson, July 4th celebrated more than the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He thought it was a link to the future. The message prominent colonists sent to King George III led to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the initial and most prominent feature of which is the First Amendment that guarantees free speech. It’s part of the country’s fundamental essence that each man and woman can say what they feel about government, or anything else, proving President Donald Trump needs some civics lessons.

Read More

BB Menu


Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1