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The introduction of the book starts off explaining that less young people of democracies are participating in politics. Wattenberg says in the book that this problem with the youth becoming increasingly disinterested in politics is a new one and has not happened before. (p1) He tries to answer why young people are not participating in politics. He explains that new technology is changing the political atmosphere of society. Mainly the invention of communications technology transformed politics. Young people have not developed what is needed to follow politics as well as older generations.
With fewer young individuals participating fewer politicians see less of a market to appeal to them and further widening the gap. He then goes over an overview of what each chapter is going to intel.
Chapter one does a great job of going through the possible reasons why young people do not read newspapers as often as older generations. Chapter one explains that fewer and fewer people are interested in reading newspapers.
It is a habit that you develop. This phenomenon happens in other democracies other than the U.S.A. That fewer young people that read is common among democracies. This chapter was informative, breaking down what might be the cause for this and explaining why or why not this is true. Such as explaining that fewer people are reading articles online but more people read books than previous generations.
Martin Wattenberg says “That President George W. Bush does not read the newspaper” (P.9) This shocked many people because they wondered how a president could be in touch with the people if they did not read the newspaper.
It explains why less young people are reading newspapers. It explains that there are more books for every household than in the past and goes on to say that young people read but do not read newspapers. He further explains that “only 7% of people under 30 said they read often and 7% of people under 30 said they read a newspaper online the day prior according to the 2004 Pew survey.” (P.25) This shows how little young people read the news online.
Chapter two opens up with explaining how the newspapers felt about television. A lot of newspapers would not publish schedules for television out of fear that they would have to compete with it. During the time that television was invented they knew that it would change politics. When politics are on most young people are somewhere else. In many network broadcasts there are commercials that are directed to seniors. This shows that the many audience of network broadcasts are senior citizens. Martin Wattenberg says “There was very little difference in the habits of watching news based on age in 1967.” (P.35) This leaves a question what changed in the years to follow to have young people change so drastically? There are a lot of other options for young people to get access to news such as cable news that runs 24 hours a day.
Most people that are under the age of 30 choose to check on the news from time to time instead at regular times. This chapter explains what water-cooler shows are and asks the question of where they have gone. They were television shows that got the name water-cooler shows from workers that would meet up at the office water cooler to discuss them. Only one percent of VCRs were owned in 1980 but by 1990 about 69 percent of homes had it making it easy for someone to record their favorite shows. Young adult viewers do not best the decision off of brand loyalties as often as the older population making them more of a target for advertisers. This was full of explanations and questions. I learned a couple of things such as how many people owned a VCR and how technology plays a role in the political system. This chapter could have summarized key points instead of going at length about things that might be affecting why younger people don’t want to vote as often as old people. Chapter one in my opinion was easier to follow along then this chapter because chapter one is more entertaining than chapter two.
Chapter three explains the difference between young people and old people. Young people prefer to focus on a select few categories when it comes to the news. Young people enjoy more entertainment over news than old people. Younger people would be more likely to know something that had something to do with entertainment or technology. Martin Wattenberg says “The book goes over what articles that young people paid more attention to more than the elderly. Some of them were the World Food Conference, Cyprus War, and the Vietnam war were more likely to be followed by younger people.”(p.62) In the book it goes over why Italians don’t follow the rest of the world’s democracy when it comes to the correlation of old people following politics and young people not following politics as much. There was very little difference when it came to age in Italy when it came to the deference of young to old people following politics. Martin Wattenberg says “63 percent of Italians that were interviewed in 1959 explained they did not follow accounts of political and governmental affairs.” (P.76) Showing that older generations did not have much interest in politics.
The title of the chapter 3 makes us wonder why we should not ask someone that is under 30. The reason being is that they do not follow politics as much as older generations. It goes over the rise of education and how one would think that a population that is more educated should know more about politics. But this is not the case because they are not as exposed to the news as the elderly. This chapter explains that younger people are slowly decreasing the knowledge they know on politics over the years and this is demonstrated by an illustration where previous surveys were taken every so often. Because young people have access to all sorts of entertainment online it appears that young people would rather entertain themselves then educate themselves. I was able to relate to some of the topics discussed in this chapter. One thing I could relate to is how young people are more inclined to listen and watch entertainment over actual news. In the news today it mainly has people messing around and making jokes. There’s hardly any actual news. Also I can see why young people would care about entertainment because it is more available than ever before. This chapter was the easiest to follow over the other two previous chapters.
Chapter 4 points out how there is only a very slight possibility that one vote will change an election. In this Chapter it explains that it’s difficult to get young adults to vote. It’s become a problem in many democracies where young people do not vote as often. The focus is how to increase voter turnout in democracies. More people said they voted when they did not. Depending on what the election is will help determine the amount of voters that will be at a given election. Voters for the president would have the highest amount of turnout for voters. Martin Wattenberg says “that one reason that young Americans do not vote as frequently is because they are more likely to choose independent over Republican or Democrat and a good amount of states are closed to voters that are not either Republican or Democrat.” (p. 104) Second-order elections do not get as many voters. Martin Wattenberg says “There is very little information on European elections and that European Union Citizens do not know as much when it comes to the European Union over their own.”(p.114) This shows that primary national elections get more exposure over Second-order elections.
Martin Wattenberg explains “older people are connected more often by political parties then young people the reason being for this is that organizations feel that they are more likely to participate and it would be a waste of resources to contact the young people.”(P.107) Because young people are not contacted as often as older people then do not develop a habit of participating in politics. Martin Wattenberg explains “More young people move around more and do not have much roots in a community this means that they are not as involved in local politics.” (p. 111) The chapter ends with Martin Wattenberg Explaining that high schools need to be helping young adults get more acquainted with politics. This chapter had a good amount of information. I can understand why young people are less involved in the local community because I know a lot of young people that have moved around pretty often.
Chapter 5 Talks about how the young view voting and that they view it less as a civic duty. Martin Wattenberg gives a story about himself that helps him explain his point. Martin Wattenberg says “I did not vote in the November 1998 electron because I had to go visit my father for heart bypass surgery and I did not know I could request an absentee ballot.” (p.119) Martin felt that he had a good excuse however his father was able to demonstrate the importance of voting by wanting to vote even though he had the bypass surgery. Martin was more concerned about his parents’ vote than having himself vote. This I find amazing since the author is given his past with voting and it’s quite a shock to hear him not care as much as I would think because he made this book. Martin Wattenberg says “when conducting a serve with young people that were 15 to 25 years old 20 percent said voting was a responsibility, 9 percent said it was a duty, 34 percent said it was a choice, and 31 percent said it was a right. (p. 121) This shows that young voters do not view voting as important as older voters. Because a larger percent of older people think that it is their duty to vote.
Martin Wattenberg says “ The class of 1965 and their parents showed that the younger generation were more likely than their parents to say that participation in politics was a key trait of good citizenship.”(p.123) As young people grow up however their opinion might change because they get more experience and realize that they do not have as much time as they used to and they put things to the side. After a while another survey was taken and the class later on was asked to take it and they demonstrated that when the children grow up their opinions on the importance of voting had changed. This chapter explains that it might be too late to convince people that have entered early adulthood that it is their duty as citizens to vote but it’s not too late to convince people that politics matter. One thing to explain to people is that when you don’t vote you are given other people the power to make their own decisions about how that nation should act. Chapter 5 was short and I wanted him to go on a little more.
Chapter 6 most young people start off more liberal and move more to the right as they age. One example of this is explained by Martin Wattenberg “in the 1950s most children were mostly liberal but by the 1980s their liberal views changed to be more moderated and by the 1990s they were more likely to be conservatives than liberals. Martin Wattenberg explains “Young people are more open to new ideas. More Young Americans approved of the war in Iraq than older generations did. Young people also agree that we did the right thing in getting into the war with Vietnam and Korea.”(p. 130) Young adults are more concerned with ending party labels than old people. Most young voters will vote for a third party member then the other two. The lack of young votes helps enforce the two party system because those potential votes are not being used for third party members and the third party members don’t have enough support to try which is a cycle that does not end.
Martin Wattenberg explains “Churchill said, young people are more enticed by socialism” (p.143) Because young people are just starting out they are more enticed by getting help with their economic situation and become less so when they grow older because they acquire more resources. Young people are more concerned with getting a college education and finding a job because they’re just starting out. This makes young people favor government intervention. There is also a lot of data that backs up the idea that young people become more conservative as they age. Young adults favor social service over defence spending. I found this chapter to be quite insightful.
Chapter 7 explains how the elderly have been telling young people how negatively different they are. Martin Wattenberg explains “The older generations have always had negative views on the young and this has been true since the time of Aristotle”(p.152) This helps show us that older generations have always been talking down to the younger generations. In the chapter it also mentions how younger generations do more protest and volunteer more often then the elderly. Martin Wattenberg explains “in the general social Survey of 2014, it showed that young people were more likely to say that they were part of a demonstration at some point in their lives.”(p. 150) Which this sort of participation is what young people are doing instead of simply voting.
Young people are more likely to involve themselves with other forms of political engagement which has an impact on the political atmosphere. Young people volunteer to help build their resumes and to get into college. Young people do not contact government officials as much as the elderly. The chapter goes on to explain that we should not expect that the American youth will continue to participate in volunteering after they have built up their resumes. Having young people volunteering does not mean that they will participate in politics necessarily. Young people are not likely to tie volunteer work to political participation. Having young people volunteer makes you think that maybe that they will become more involved with politics later in life however this is not the case. Many young Americans feel that volunteering is the alternative form of engaging in politics. This chapter was short for me. This chapter only talked about other forms of political participation and did not talk about much of anything else.
Chapter 8 the audience of people following politics on tv has been decreasing. The Obama campaign used the internet to spread information to voters and reach out to young people. This chapter also explains how the internet is decreasing the number of newspapers because less people are reading them. Online newspapers have tried to replace them but the amount of revenue they generate is small. The reason behind why campaign investors do not contact young people as much is because they are not likely to vote and it can be difficult to contact them. Young people are more likely to be out when phone banks are operating. One thing that interested me was learning that robo-calling cell phones is against the law by the federal communications law.
One group that helped Obama in the primaries was African-Americans. Martin Wattenberg explains “African-Americans had more support for Obama then Clinton by four to one.” (p. 185) This shows the mobilization of the African-American vote. This is also shown by the number of voters from this group. Martin Wattenberg explains “In louisiana, the number of emocratic primary voters that were African-American had went up from 42 percent in 2004 to 57 percent in 2008.” (p.185) The number in Georgia was nearly the same. Given evidence for the jump in voters and explaining why some people might think that the jump in voters might be among the young during this time. However this is not the case, the many number of participants were largely the elderly. This chapter shows that young minorities are more likely to vote than non hespanic whites but this only showed for the Obama campaign and the numbers dropped to about the same as non hespanic whites afterward. During the Obama campaign young people still did not have as many voters as older people but their numbers increased during this time. This chapter was interesting because it broke down why the Obama campaign was miss interpreted as the turning point for young voters in the news and is pretty misleading.
Chapter 9 This chapter explains why having a class that stresses the importance of political participation can help with voter turn out. Making registration more friendly will benefit young people and increase the number of participation. Registration has been made a lot easier in the United States with the 1993 Motor Voter Act that required states to permit people to register whenever they apply for or renew their driver’s license. What might be affecting the younger voters is that the election time is on a tuesday and most young people say that they are busy. However many other countries still experience low turnout even though their election day is during the weekend.
This chapter explains that compulsory voting works very well. Even if the enforcement is relaxed there is a high turn out rate because of it. The United States at the moment dislikes the idea of compulsory voting because they feel that it’s against their American freedom. Martin Wattenberg explains “One thing against compulsory voting is that forcing people with limited political interest to vote might make them susceptible to appeals by politicians.”(p. 211) Having people that don’t want to vote makes them a candidate for the predatory appeals of some politicians. Martin Wattenberg explains “My students who were exposed to the contents of my book are more often outraged that older generations control the government while the younger generation is ignored due to low turnout rates.”(p. 211) This chapter ends on a great note by explaining the emotions of his students. I can understand why Americans feel that compulsory voting is against freedom but I feel that it might be helpful to implement.
In conclusion I found the book to be very informative. The book Explains why young people are less likely to vote than older people. There are many thought provoking questions throughout the book. The explanation of how new technology plays a role in how the delivery of political information has changed was nicely done. The book was a bit lengthy in its explanation of why less younger people are voting. However the book did a decent job of bringing up topics that kept the reader interested.
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