O, young voters, I heart you.

By Caitlin Baggott of Portland, Oregon. Caitlin is a co-founder and interim executive director of the Bus Project. Previously, she contributed "The rising political power of the Millenial Generation."

O, young voters. I heart you.

On Tuesday night we celebrated with about 3000 people at the Bus Project’s post-election party with the Willamette Week. We had much to toast, hoot, and hug about as reports indicated record turnout in the 2008 election—and the impact of the youth vote. Many organizations and people young and old invested countless hours and dreams in this election--from registering voters, to knocking on doors, from the top of the ticket to the smallest local bond measure. We all had reasons to rejoice on Tuesday, in Oregon and around the nation.

Projections are that we will see the largest number of young voters in US history. Initial estimates suggest that young voter turnout nationwide will be up as much as 13% over 2000 (and may be up 1-6% over 2004, which was a strong year for youth voter turnout). (CIRCLE, Nov. 5) It’s the third cycle in a row with a rising tide of youth participation.

Youth turnout soared -- by at least 2.2 million young voters since 2004. That means that nationally 18% of the electorate was under the age of 30. The youth moved the race to Obama. While surging in turnout, exit polls reveal that young voters went 68-30 for Obama, the highest preference for a candidate by young voters since the advent of exit polls in 1976. Historically, the preference of young voters has been within 1.4% of the preference of the overall electorate. This difference -- 68-30 among young voters vs. roughly 50-50 for older voters-- makes this the second election in a row in which young voters showed the direction that we'll move the country in years to come. Without any meaningful doubt, young voters won this national election.

Our investment in our generation has delivered results. And we must continue to invest. Despite record turnout, Oregon could still see a big gap between young and old voters in Oregon. In the coming year, we should explore ideas such as "same day" registration, optional postage for ballots, and schools programs to encourage open dialogue and debate around current events and issues.

This is a big change moment. Research shows that once young people cast their first vote, they develop a strong voting habit. Let’s hope that this election proves to be a gateway drug to politics for an entire generation.

Millions of young voters are casting off the mantle of an apathy and disengagement. We have proved the pundits, reporters and political parties wrong.

They weren’t sure that we would register to vote this year. But we did.

They wondered if we would have the skills and the will to organize our friends and peers. But we did.

They doubted that we would turn out to the polls this spring. But we did.

And they were still not sure if we’d vote this fall. But we did. In freakin' droves.

Perhaps its time we stop doubting our young voters, and start celebrating them. They showed wisdom, energy, and determination this year. Now it’s time to ask, what will be the legacy of our age? How will we come together across generations to wrestle with the movement worthy issues of our time? The answers to these questions aren't the ambit of one generation. Let's begin to answer these questions together.

Comments

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)
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    Another question might be how to make sure that the fresh enthusiasm doesn't ripen into cynicism at political deal-making and partisan fighting.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    To endorse Jonathan Radmacher's point, this is an abstract from an opinion piece I had published in the Bend Bulletin recently:

    "There is another factor to this election that should be of concern. Many young people have been inspired to take an interest in politics as well they should, but there is a good chance that they will discover promises made and implied will not be fulfilled. It would be regrettable if they allowed their reaction to be one of cynicism. Instead, they should recognize in their own, if painful, interest that when it comes to a successful con job it takes two people - the con artist and the mark. The latter must recognize that he or she is partly to blame for being naïve and ill-informed and go on to remedy these defects. In politics scams take the form of campaign operatives as the tricksters and the public as the marks."

  • Jason Wielder (unverified)
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    I am having a hard time affording school right now and am waiting for a check from obama for college. Also I'd like to be able to afford a car. Not sure if Obama has a plan for cars for students or not, but need my school check soon.

    Thanks.

  • kay (unverified)
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    Demographically, I'm an older white female and therefore MUST have voted for McCain. In reality, I'm an older white female who has wanted Mr. Obama for my president ever since he spoke at the 2004 Dem convention. I'm an older white female who who sent checks as I could afford to for Mr. Obama's campaign and who voted for Mr. Obama. You can't imagine the joy felt by this older white female when he was elected. I'll bet there were a lot of older white females who voted for Mr. Obama. Or were they all just in my small circle of family and friends?

  • kay (unverified)
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    Demographically, I'm an older white female and therefore MUST have voted for McCain. In reality, I'm an older white female who has wanted Mr. Obama for my president ever since he spoke at the 2004 Dem convention. I'm an older white female who who sent checks as I could afford to for Mr. Obama's campaign and who voted for Mr. Obama. You can't imagine the joy felt by this older white female when he was elected. I'll bet there were a lot of older white females who voted for Mr. Obama. Or were they all just in my small circle of family and friends?

  • (Show?)

    Not sure if Obama has a plan for cars for students or not, but need my school check soon.

    Not to worry dude. He's going to nationalize Oprah, and pass the cars that were slated for Welfare Mothers on Crack and redirect them to you.........

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    heh while I don't care so much about every person getting a car, it sure would be nice though if we had universal car insurance.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Two words: Rahm Emanuel.

    Nothing like a militarist reactionary like him to let you know with what contempt Obama holds progressives.

    If you like the status quo on the drug war, pay or die health care, non-living wage, the Patriot Act, FISA, NAFTA-related trade deals, nuclear and unclean coal before solar, increased military spending, unqualified support for Israeli crimes, and continuing militarism, you should continue on this course of triumphalism. If you want change, join the November 5 Movement.

  • Meryl (unverified)
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    As a now late 30something voter who was once a young idealist and who became a cynic after 8 years of stolen elections and Bush regime, it took a reprimand from my mother (who came of age in the era of Eisenhower and Kennedy and now suffers dementia). She told me to quit my bitching and get busy. And that got me off my butt to volunteer with Obama's campaign, and help get out the vote. It also got me to vote for the PCC bond and children's measure, even though it will raise my property taxes significantly. Now that we've elected Obama, I feel that our work is just beginning, that we need to heed his call to service and sacrifice, to ask, as Kennedy did, what we can do for our country. Only then can we truly heal, rebuild and empower ourselves to remain involved in our own democratic process.

    So, it's not about everyone getting a car, or car insurance. It may be about driving less or using less electricity or investing in our own learning while the government works on student tax breaks. It's about what we can each do and it will be about patience, because Obama's platform amounts to a giant wish list and it's going to come second to rebuilding our economy and figuring out what to do in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    My plea to the excited new voters who are a generation behind me is that you not let the culture of instant gratification make cynics of you, that you understand that an idea, a policy, etc... will take time to germinate, to pass into law and to implement, and that Obama is a leader, not a miracle worker. He seems like a thoughtful, methodical person who will take time to make sure his policies are well thought out and not just pushed through.

    And we did not just elect him to watch him succeed or fail. As he said, he needs our help to make this happen. It's the beginning, not the end, of what could be a very powerful era for all generations. I personally am looking forward to being of service to my country for the first time in a decade.

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
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    Whoa, trashing the man two days after the election? Some folks decided not to wait too long. Let's see what he does once in the job before we start the evaluation. The Netroots/Progressive/Liberal/Democratic movement didn't start with Obama and we are far from done just because he was elected President.

    Remember: MoveOn has more members than the NRA. I'm still fired up and still ready to go!

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    Two words: Rahm Emanuel. Nothing like a militarist reactionary like him to let you know with what contempt Obama holds progressives.

    And so it begins. Now your guy got about 570,000 out of about 140,000,000 votes, so I can empathize with your pique, and as you well know, I've never been a fan of AIPAC or the DLC, but just wondering:

    What makes you think that Obama's just going to roll over for these guys? All well and good for the IndyMedia, Mike Malloy Types to remain in the Fear and Despair Zone. Like their counterparts at Townhall, NW Republican, and Little Green Footballs, this is their default setting.

    At least give us a little credit for integrity, even if you can't manage to see Obama as anything other than some sort of Cardboard Cutout/Sellout Stereotype.

    A lot of us will be watching closely. Some of us will be watching with Hope and a measure of Patience.

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    Caitlin,

    I'm a bit curious about where you see the "doubting" -- MSM maybe, though even that may be getting dated, but around here it seems to me I've seen rather more celebrating.

    It is my impression that the Bus Project to some extent has managed at least one partial "generational" transition, but politics of age-stage identity being what they are, this is a perennial problem, so to speak, whether it be youth or student politics. While you write of "we," I'm pretty sure you must at least be getting close bumping up against the top end of "voters under 30." You may identify with 18-year olds able to vote for the first time this year, but it may not work so much going the other direction -- again just in the nature of things.

    So I am curious about whether you have thoughts about maintaining continuing youth engagement efforts and developing new leadership among the younger end of that spectrum for the contexts and organizations in which you work.

    I also would like your perspective on a particular issue that I see as multi-generational and having the potential to produce either divisive or cooperative inter-generational politics. That issue is Social Security and Medicare (by extension, healthcare access, health insurance & health system reform may also be similar).

    A few years ago the Right was promoting a highly divisive generational politics in support of their agenda to privatize Social Security. Basically the way this worked was to encourage and exploit the cynicism of Gen Xers (more or less, plus up a bit and especially younger) along the lines of promoting the idea that "I'll never see benefits from Social Security because the system will fail first," so I should support privatization.

    Now I'm just far enough to the tail end of the boomers that the appeal was also to an extent aimed at me. It always has been my view that it was an invitation to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, and to slit our own throats. The other alternative, of course, is to organize to support and strengthen the system so that it is there for the rising generations.

    I'm pretty sure we're due for another round of this to come around, with lots of grave finger-waving by rich or comfortably well-off white men (mostly) about "realism" to be imposed on various other kinds of people, including women, who live longer, working class and poor people, and youth.

    I am curious whether you see any sign of this kind of thing yet. I am curious about whether such issues are on the radar screen for those with whom you work. I am curious whether you think there is potential for intergenerational alliance work on this or any other kind of issue.

    One other thought about inter-generational politics -- as people move through the next phase following that on which you are focused, or even the latter part of the 20s, intergenerational perspectives tend to grow. On the one hand, more and more young people become parents of even younger people. On the other hand, somewhat variably, the aging of parents becomes something to think and sometimes worry about.

    When Lyndon Johnson got Medicare through Congress in the mid-1960s, he did so with the support of the then still fairly young World War II generation and those who were children of the Great Depression, and maybe the oldest boomers, for the benefit particularly of people who had lived through that Depression as adults, often with great privation. There was a sense that they should not be faced with penury and ill-health in old age as well. It's an interesting historical event to think about.

    But absolutely celebrate youth! There have been two tremendously exciting events in the peace movement in Portland this year. One happened a few weeks ago with the Winter Soldier hearings, out of which is emerging the organization of a Portland chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War (veterans form an interesting subset of youth as you define it).

    The other was a school walk-out against the occupation of Iraq that happened in March, and brought roughly 3000 mostly high-schoolers out to gather and march to City Hall. The mobilization was far beyond what the organizers expected, I think, propagated with networked media, online and cell phones. It was an amazing and beautiful thing.

  • zull (unverified)
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    You want to really know why the youth vote didn't turn out in 2004? Simple. The media canned the Dean campaign, which was generating the most excitement among the youth of any of the other Democratic nominees, and the youth were pretty fairly burned out when it came time to vote. When you deflate your own campaign in preference for a boring old establishment candidate, you're killing your chances when it comes to the youth vote. Any parent knows you've got to motivate your kids to do chores, any teacher knows you've got to motivate them to care about learning. It's the same way with voting, and the establishment shot themselves in the foot with Kerry when they went along with how the media smeared Howard Dean over one little insignificant thing.

  • Lennon (unverified)
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    @Chris Lowe: Being a Bus volunteer who's bumping up against that "under-30" ceiling myself, I can offer a few observations about how that organization, at least, seems to be working to insure they can keep cranking out a steady supply of enthusiastic young leaders.

    First and foremost, as most folks here already know, the PolitiCorps program trains a dozen or so recent (or soon-to-be) grads in the ins-and-out of political campaigning. Many PolitiCorps fellows go on to work with the Bus and its partner organizations, and yet more move directly to join the staff of various campaigns around the state.

    Secondly, there is a pervasive culture of inclusion and promotion of promising volunteers to leadership roles within the Bus, no matter how they first come into contact with the organization. Even first-time Bus riders are encouraged to join a planning committee, volunteer to help an event happen, or otherwise take a hand in helping to steer the entire organization.

    At most of the Bus events near the end of this cycle, the age of the people actively organizing and herding volunteers for the day really was closer to 20 than 30. Once the team was on the field, Caitlin, Garrett, and the other senior staff were content to let them play the game.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Thanks for the link, Harry. I signed up.

    ... we need to heed his call to service and sacrifice, to ask, as Kennedy did, what we can do for our country.

    Unfortunately, Kennedy was more sizzle than steak. He was to be commended for his inspirational rhetoric (sound familiar?) and the Peace Corps but getting the United States deeper into the Vietnam quagmire pretty well negated that.

    Nothing like a militarist reactionary like him to let you know with what contempt Obama holds progressives.

    And so it begins. Now your guy got about 570,000 out of about 140,000,000 votes,...

    Geez. You mean to say there are less than one percent of voters who are progressive?

    What makes you think that Obama's just going to roll over for these guys?

    Well, for openers there are his groveling before AIPAC, his reversal on the FISA bill granting retroactive immunity to the telecom companies for spying on the American people and letting them continue in the future, and his plans to increase military forces in Afghanistan despite the obvious fact there is no military solution for that area. Need more? Go to Counterpunch for Nov. 6 and read the article "A Look Under the Hood of an Obama Administration."

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)
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    It wasn't just that our "young people" voted, they were extremely involved in the Obama campaign's ground game! They stepped up big time which bodes well for our Country's future.

  • Caitlin Baggott (unverified)
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    "So I am curious about whether you have thoughts about maintaining continuing youth engagement efforts and developing new leadership among the younger end of that spectrum for the contexts and organizations in which you work."

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for your comments focused on youth and youth leadership.

    Creating opportunities for younger activists to become leaders is what the Bus is all about. When we started the organization I was 24. I am reminded on a daily basis that, at 24, I had the skills, energy, will, and enthusiasm required by the work we started--and that I also had a lot to learn.

    When we started PolitiCorps, our national leadership development program for young progressive organizers, part of our interest was to streamline some of the lesson-learning we went through in our first years of running the Bus Project. The program is run by young people, for young people. And we bring in more seasoned experts in the field to teach skills, ask tough questions, facilitate conversations, and share their stories and experience.

    We know that the only way to develop real leadership skills is to have a true leadership experience. That is what we attempt to do with PolitiCorps, and with all of the volunteer-run events and projects at the Bus. At the same time, we learn from history that no major cultural movement is the effort of one generation--the boomers adopted and adapted the skills and infrastructure developed by the "silent" generation that came before them. As my friend Jefferson often says, it's not about age, it's about THE age. And are living during an age that demands action.

    Yet, for at least as long as young people have had the right to vote, the message has been that young voters will not act.

    Up until last week, organizers, funders, allies in the progressive movement, and young people themselves feared the worst from young voters. Funding for youth civic work was late and low all over the country this year. (PEW, for instance, stopped funding youth civic work this year.) People wondered: Would they vote? Would they vote for anything more than president? Would they turn out if it looked like a sure thing? Would they bail if the lines on campus were too long?

    What I wonder is what we need to build to move forward to support young people as active and valuable contributors to the political process. Studies show that many young people lack opportunities to discuss current events, have thoughtful debate, or explore political philosophy in school-- and that these kinds of experiences correlate with voter registration and turnout.

    And training programs focused on putting young people in positions of leadership, teaching them organizing skills, are also important.

    If you have ideas about other ways to encourage young leaders -- I'm all ears.

  • KenA (unverified)
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    O the Bus Project and young voters, we heart you. Here at Oregon AFSCME we think the bus project is the best political initiative in Oregon in decades. We have been early and consistent financial supporters of the Bus. We have been partners for years. Your work has inspired us to do more. Our partnership has inspired us to create a Next Wave movement for young members and leaders in AFSCME. The Bus Project and AFSCME Next Wave activists will be future leaders in the labor movement and Oregon politics for years. Your work has made a huge difference in the legislative makeup. The activist get out and volunteer theme of the Bus Project has demonstrated how individuals can make a difference when they join together and work and fight for change.

  • Gregor (unverified)
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    Bottomline: "out of the mouthes of babes comes perfect praise." In other words, even the kids knew McCain would be a disaster. How did those other 40% folks see it any other way?!?

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    Caitlin:

    It sure was fun to be at the Bus Project's party Tuesday night. I'd only planned to stay until just after 8, but ended up staying until about 10:30.

    It was great seeing the place packed with so many under 35, many of which I did not recognize. I always love a political event where there are a ton of young people I don't recognize.

    Keep up the good work guys!

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Pat Ryan said, "At least give us a little credit for integrity"

    For working for a candidate who wants to increase our trillion-dollar-plus military spending? Who vows unqualified support for Israeli crimes? Who likes the Patriot Act, FISA capitulation, and bailouts for his Wall Street buddies at the expense of the rest of us? Who loves the "free" market, NAFTA-like trade deals, pay-or-die health insurance, and terroristic threats to those who are most likely to attack us in response?

    Is that integrity? It is an "internally consistent set of principles", i.e., hegemony and corporatism, so maybe it is integrity (if you disavow the necessity for honor and virtue). Congratulations.

    Join the November 5 Movement, and I'll give you some credit.

  • Elizabeth (unverified)
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    Thanks, Caitlin.

    I can also echo Cailtlin's comments re: age not being the most meaningful factor in the work the Bus Project does. While young voters & leaders (be it students or young professionals) are the target audience, the message & impact of the work is truly timeless.

    Unlike other demographic groups such as race or ethnicity, age is dymanic & the bench constantly needs to be re-filled w/new folks ready to make a difference for their generation, state, country, & world.

    The Bus does an amazing job of re-fueling the engine of youth civic engagement via their innovative programs, passion for the cause, data-driven analysis, and outreach skills.

    Ultimately, this work takes a combination of idealism, determination, faith, good personal & organizing skills, patience, & a laser-like pragmatic focus on results.

    Thus, the Bus is home to people of many skills, talents, interests, political backgrounds, and outlooks w/in the broader progressive, youth-oriented, forward-leaning world.

    That diversity in thought/approach & welcoming, encouraging atmosphere is what brings people back, keeps them engaged, & inspires new volunteers to get on board (both in Oregon and other states).

    In my humble opinion, there is no other group or organization, no matter how big or how effective, quite like it.

  • Joe Smith (unverified)
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    Many years ago, when Kay Pollack and I were co-chairing the Nuclear Freeze Coalition, as we struggled to keep a group that ran from main-line churches all the way to the local Soviet Union representative (I kid you not; they had a guy on their payroll in Portland Oregon)focused on our purpose (a freeze on nuclear weapons),a wise older woman on our Board observed, "The problem the left has always had is the tendency to splinter and attack each other." (One young woman on the board was shocked at the suggestion that she was "of the left!")
    Here's a celebratory post about something really quite wonderful that's happened right here in Portland Oregon, over the last few months and days, and it becomes the excuse for criticism, doubt, even carping, and of course, the obligatory long essay insisting we must always look at the bigger picture. How about just one "ATTA GIRL", "ATTA BOY," and "ATTA KIDS" for one hell of good job well done, and leave it at that for a day or two? There'll be plenty of opportunity for looking at each other's navels later. TOG

  • Meg (unverified)
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    I had the pleasure Tuesday night of picking up my 12 year old daughter and her friend from choir practice. All during the practice, the kids were receving text messages with updates about the election. My daughter used her break to call me "Please Mom, get on the internet, did they really call Pennsylvania for Obama? What is happening in Virginia? We know he has Californina, Oregon and Washington in the bag, so how many more electorial votes does he need to win?" They came rolling out of their rehersal screaming and shouting "OBAMA" - they all knew the race had been called. Twelve year olds. To me, this was the power of the election -- watching people who could not even vote become engaged in the political process. Like Jon, I worry about keeping the enthusiasm alive for these voters-to-be (and those who voted for the first time this election), but for a short time, I want to savor the magic.

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    I think a key is teaching everyone - not just young people - that their part doesn't stop at their ballot. That they have to hold their electeds accountable - write them on issues, go to hearings about legislation in Salem, speak before a council meeting, etc.

    Of course, one of the good things about so many of us "young" people bumping against 30 is that we're getting married and having kids. And we're teaching our kids the importance of voting, civic engagement, etc. We're bringing up a new generation of youth who will think civic engagement is the norm. I know Abby, who is 6, sure thinks that way.

  • (Show?)

    I also heart the Bus Project. You all came down in the big bus twice at the end of the campaign and helped us get out the student vote. We won because of the Bus, BRO, AFSME, OLCV and countless other committed volunteers. The most important take away is that Kitty wouldn't be mayor if it weren't for the votes of students and the work of the Bus Project. Thank you x infinity!

  • Jefferson Smith (unverified)
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    Several thoughts:

    1) Caitlin rocks.

    2) Pertaining to something I read above: "cross-generational" needs to become a watchword for the Bus. It has always been a reality in the people who have driven together, but as the brand matures, it needs to be obviously age-inclusive, even as it works to stay youth-relevant (and yes, to keep engaging the next cohort of leaders).

    3) "Generation": we should think not in terms of age group, but in terms of a period of years. The matter is not to give power to any particular age group -- or any particular constituency or person -- but to give power to ideas that will fix us better for the future.

    4) Let's tread with audacious humility. There will those that counsel against "overreaching"; I woul apply counsel that to a needed wariness of departing from our best values and most needed objectives. Let us not think that now is the time to reward our own self-interest, but to think about the common interest. At the same time, in doing so let's not miss the necessity of history.

    5) Thanks to all the people who volunteer (for various things) and thereby build a constituency for the public good. You are priceless.

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    Caitlin wrote:

    What I wonder is what we need to build to move forward to support young people as active and valuable contributors to the political process. Studies show that many young people lack opportunities to discuss current events, have thoughtful debate, or explore political philosophy in school-- and that these kinds of experiences correlate with voter registration and turnout.

    Maybe something as simple as reading & discussion clubs/coffeehouses (make 'em short readings) for one fairly easy & cheap start-up? Meet once a month, loose relaxed atmosphere to hang & talk, maybe some music or some afterwards socializing activity of another sort on offer?

    The old Red Rose School (before it got taken over by more rigid ideologues than its initiators) is bouncing around in my head too as some kind of a halfway model. It was leftier, maybe, than what you have in mind, but then again maybe that's an edge you want to explore.

    Find out particular things people want to know or develop. E.g. -- Media workshops with more than one meeting, the get beyond the one-day workshop stuff into things like issue framing and generating earned media and linking media work with working with officials, commissions etc. (this is informed by a course I took in the School of Community Health at PSU btw)? -- Not super techy but more than superficial database, web, internet stuff; introductions to relevant often-used software, databases, etc.?
    -- History of youth movements -- Bus Project itself, SNCC, what worked & didn't about SDS (?), maybe lessons to be learned from youth engagement on the Right?
    -- Cultcha stuff -- music I have an impression the Bus does pretty well with, but visual arts, theater/acting/film & video, documentary photography or film?

    Speaking of the Right, what you say about funding is interesting and seems to correspond to broader complaints by some about "progressive" foundations not funding idea work, partly out of laudable orientation to service delivery to those in need I suppose. But in the '80s and '90s and possibly down to today the network of rightwing think tanks & idea/policy/propaganda organizations was pretty well networked with well-funded rightwing campus student newspapers.

    Sorry to be so rambly, there's a lot of dross & probably stuff that's already done in there, but maybe there's something that will spark a worthwhile idea.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Great points, Jeff.

    How many legislators now are 35 or under?

    And about this:

    "4) Let's tread with audacious humility. There will those that counsel against "overreaching"; I woul apply counsel that to a needed wariness of departing from our best values and most needed objectives. Let us not think that now is the time to reward our own self-interest, but to think about the common interest. At the same time, in doing so let's not miss the necessity of history."

    Life is so much easier for young women like Caitlin than it was 30 years ago. Financial regulations for women (access to credit, banking and other laws regarding women who married and took their husband's last name, for instance) were very old fashioned before the year (early 1970s, Norma Paulus's first session, I think) when there were 10 women state reps across the political spectrum.

    Not a lot in common as far as age or political persuasion, but all understood the financial problems of women. They banded together and became a bloc--without their votes, bills could not pass. They used that power to pass bills modernizing financial laws for women. Norma said when they got thank you notes from Business and Professional Women's clubs in E. Oregon, they knew they were doing the right thing. That is the sort of "common interest/necessity of history" legislation the next legislature should consider.

    Here is one idea, as an example: If schools are mainly funded by state tax dollars, the legislature should demand as much oversight of school administrator pay packages and work evaluations as of teachers. How many school district administrators (esp. in central school district offices) are making twice as much as teachers--average, new, experienced, whatever? What are they doing to earn that pay? If an HR administrator, how well does their hiring process work? Using what measure? What would a performance audit find? If their job description/performance was written about in a newspaper, would it make sense to average folks? Teacher of the Year gets lots of publicity, what are administrators doing to benefit education?

    For years, Republicans have claimed that teachers make too much money because they are unionized, while management apparently deserves what the market will bear. They love talking about audits, accountability for public spending, let's turn the tables and see if administrative salaries are value for the dollar.

    And are all those tax breaks living up to their promise, and providing value for the dollar? Or just rewarding cronies? Time to look at whether they deserve to be kept on the books.

    This should be an interesting session next year.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    What I wonder is what we need to build to move forward to support young people as active and valuable contributors to the political process. Studies show that many young people lack opportunities to discuss current events, have thoughtful debate, or explore political philosophy in school-- and that these kinds of experiences correlate with voter registration and turnout.

    Let's not overlook the forces at large working on children from their earliest days to become consumers instead of citizens.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Perhaps when someone posts a statement that leaves you thinking, "what, are you 15?", we should consider that the person might be. Obama turned out a lot of younger voters and many- and those that weren't old enough but cared- will be interested in the process more. BO is a natural stop. Perhaps, some indulgence? In particular, I've wondered if some of the recent critique of YoungOregonMoonbat hasn't been a tad harsh, the operative word being young.

    I worked long and hard as a twelve year old for Bobby Kennedy and I was not disillusioned so much by what happened as the harsh, real-politik attitude of the Johnson-appointed crowd after the election. I believe I have heard Vera Katz mention that as well.

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