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Blog 11: Democratic Citizenship

What it meant for my Grandparents:
To look back over the years and see how the definition of democratic citizenship has changed you can look at the relationship between public information, and how much young adults are interested in this. For my grandparents being twenty year olds during the great depression probably meant that they were highly democratic and although they new times were hard, they seemed to have a blind faith in the government in general. When talking to my grandpa about his early days, he never said anything negative about the government, and like most people of the time, he realized that times were hard, but he believed they would get better, and they did. I think the fact that the 1950s were a time of great growth after a time of great despair led people like my grandparents to have a great trust in the government, but also a fear that things could go wrong which made them pay close attention to the government and certain policies. Overall I think the democratic citizenship of that time was very successful and politics did a great job of using popular avenues of the time to keep people engaged (ex. they started using TV’s for debates, and newspapers were still very popular/useful).
What it meant for my Mom:
My mom grew up around the time were Reagan had a war on drugs, and well I’m pretty sure my mom couldn’t care less. The group my Mom hung around were all about going against authority figures, and to be interested in politics meant you were a ‘square’. Unfortunately this attitude stayed with her through much of her life, and I can not remember one time when I was younger when my mom even voted. It seems in the 1980s the government did little to change and adapt to younger generations, maybe after the 1960s and the revolution the statement that young people had made taught them a lesson they were not soon to forget. Obviously I cannot speak for my mother’s entire generation, but she was not politically engaged as a youth, and proud of it. Luckily in recent years, just like the 2008 election captured the attention of youth, it also held my Mom’s attention and since she is working hard at being politically informed. But it seems like the biggest difference in my Mom’s generation and my grandparent’s generation is that the blind faith in the government is no longer there, the issues they see as important (ex. war on drugs) don’t seem to be inline with the issues that people like my Mom see as important (ex. health care). I think that Obama’s campaign to talk about the issues that are more popular in lower socioeconomic classes are allowing him to capture the attention of some citizens, who before may have felt they were voiceless.
What it means for me:
For me I think being a democratic citizen is so rapidly evolving in 2010 that as soon as have one realization one day, the next it has already changed or been disproved. Like my grandparents the Obama campaign has led me from worse economic times, into what seems like a rise, and for that I am more partial to trusting the government and seeing that our issues or in line. Unlike my grandparent’s awareness though, my generation has media outlets that tell us a hundred different angles to a story. Ignorance is truly bliss sometimes, and I wonder how much more trusting I would be in politicians if I didn’t hear a story every week about their personal lives instead of their policy issues. Luckily though my generation has been apart of campaigns (even though we may not have been old enough to vote) where candidates used media outlets like television and newspapers, and have been around during campaigns were the internet has allowed ‘grass roots’ campaigns to have a whole new level of impact. I think the issue that the article we read is discussing is very important, because the youth will be apart of campaigns that may be heavily based on the internet or other media mediums where information may not be exactly truthful. With our generation we grew up with the idea that this internet thing is new and something that we have to be careful around, but this new generation may have more faith in something they being playing on since they were a toddler. Overall I think my generation has a lot of opportunities to be good democratic citizens and although we no longer have a blind faith in our government, at least we are no longer deemed ‘uncool’ for liking politics.

What it means for future Children:

As the essay by Bennett describes, we are at a crossroads in the way that youth learns about citizenship and political engagement. First the author talks about two negative scenarios in which there will either be a gap between youth and politics because of the unwillingness of politicians to change their style of communication. On the other extreme the style of communication may be changed so much that all that present children, future twenty year olds, will only have political communication that is so easily digestible that these young adults will not have a meaningful engagement with their government because everything is so heavy with consumerism and entertainment.
On the brighter side there may be political endeavors in the future that give children ‘vibrant experiences of politics into classrooms’ in which children can ‘gain a public voice’ at an early age. The video about is from the 2008 election and I think it is a great example of pop culture blending with politics into a successful learning opportunity for the students involved.

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