Record numbers of veterans are getting jobs in the government — but a lot of them quit http://t.co/NJqilL9OQw
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 31, 2015
This articles describes the rising numbers of veterans that are being hired for government jobs. Although, most government agencies have difficulties keeping the veterans, because they quit. The Department of Defense is the only federal department that has been able to maintain a high percentage of veterans staying in their positions.
These statistics were published by the United States Office of Personnel Management. The information is published in a booklet called Employment of Veterans in the Federal Branch 2014 Fiscal Year. The booklet does not describe what type of study was done, but it is given to us by a government website and we can only hope that it is an accurate display of information.
I am interested in how the data was collected. I liked how the data was organized and showed the data of the previous fiscal year next to it so the reader could see the connection and increase in the number of veterans that have federal jobs. I think it would’ve been nice to understand why veterans were quitting their jobs but no explanation was given.
This class has certainly been one that has taught me a lot. Heck, not only that but it has also made me aware of influences on my everyday life.
For starters I enjoyed the discussions concerning the way social networking affects our lives in ways of getting political news. A perfect example of this discussion becoming a reality took place last evening when I was checking my Twitter before beginning some homework. While, I was scrolling through the posts I stumbled across one stating that President Obama was to give a speech on an undisclosed topic. From here I quickly turned on the news and watched until reporters were able to confirm that the United States had the body of Osama Bin Laden. From there I continued to watch until President Obama came on to speak. Without the use of this social network, I would have never known what was going on. I related all of this information back to our political information sources discussions; it was very neat.
From here I was able to connect my life to another one of our interesting discussions. This one was concerning the concept that Presidency had to do with strategy and image. After watching the speech given by Barack Obama concerning Bin Laden’s death I was able to explain the aspects of this interesting in class discussion to my roommates. I told them that this was going to be good for Obama’s approval ratings and re-election, just as 9/11 was a positive thing for former President Bush’s campaign. The connect I was able to make made this class not only more relevant to my everyday life but made me appreciate the discussions that I previously found enjoyable.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the book “The Selling of the President” and our discussions following that. Not only were they extremely interesting but also applicable to politics today. It opened my eyes about what exactly was going on.
While I found almost every aspect of this class to be interesting and worth my while I would not rate the discussions concerning Media Objectivity as one of my favorite. However, it was still some what interesting to hear other people’s perspectives on the matter.
All in all, this class included many topics and discussions that I found to be worth my while, not only as something that was enjoyable but something that I was able to relate to my life as well.
Democracy, if you think about it, is kind of a like a Pokemon. You start off with one creature in one shape with one set of powers. You nurture it, play with it, come to know it intimately. Somewhere down the line, you realize that you can’t cope with external pressures anymore. Your Pokemon evolves because you needed it to, because you’ve taken care of it long enough to see it change into a creature that’s more helpful.
Okay, so admittedly, I’ve never played Pokemon and even as a fifth grader, I was utterly disdainful of everyone who had the trading cards on the playground. The point is the same, though–Democracy, as an institution, as a bureaucracy, has evolved over time and with it, so has the role of the Democratic citizen.
The 20th century was a time of rapid change for our democracy. The Progressives limited the power of the political party, political parties realigned their values, women gained the right to vote, the voting age was lowered, television won Kennedy the presidency, and Vietnam rocked the political world. To be a democratic citizen in the 20th century depended entirely on when you were being a democratic citizen.
Initially, the responsibility was simple–vote. Listen to the President on the radio, register with your political party, turn in a ballot and vote for the candidate determined by your party. If you had political discussions at the dinner table, good for you.
Nixon, Vietnam, the war between the Democratic and Republic parties–the 1960s-1970s changed the very face of our democracy and, with it, the responsibilities citizens had toward it. The media became much more critical of our government, television afforded publicity and gave a face to Washington D.C., so when Nixon’s “betrayal” and the entry into Vietnam rocked the surface of our democratic trust, so it changed the nature of political participation as well. Suddenly, the importance of democratic participation did not rest solely in voting or just consuming what the President said. Suddenly, democratic participation meant analyzing the government’s actions–being a critical consumer, if you will–and protesting when you disagreed with it. Nixon and Vietnam ushered in a wave of democratic participation and activism fueled by a suspicion of government that hasn’t fully gone away.
The difference between the protests that stemmed from Vietnam and protests in 2010 is not a very subtle one. Signs, protests, and organized marches on Washington mall are still heavily favored, of course, but 2010 has something that the 70s did not have–the Internet. The fundamental difference between Democratic citizens today and our parents is that we have a multitude of forums through which to protest and participate. Participation is no longer simply a black-
and-white exertion of physical effort. Sure, you can march in downtown Los Angeles for immigration rights or through Washington for some misbegotten Tea Party movement, but you can also begin an awareness campaign on Facebook, you can have political discussions on online forums, you can Tweet live pictures, and organize Rock the Vote parties.
With this expansion of opportunities, of course, has also come an increased expectation of what entails a real Democratic citizen. It’s not enough to vote anymore, it’s not enough to simply watch televised debates anymore. To be a well-respected, well-involved, active citizen in democracy–American or otherwise–you have to participate tangibly, visibly. I suppose it’s just as well that Google, Twitter, forums, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr create pressure to be involved or at least well-versed in current events and politics, because with Google, Twitter, forums, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr eating up our extra time, we certainly need that easy-access forum to participate at all.
That’s not to say, true political participation can’t be completely avoided regardless. You might fail miserably at Jeopardy and be judged from here to the coasts and back, but it is, I assure you, entirely possible. I wouldn’t choose it as an alternative, though. Seriously, take five seconds to read Obama’s platform on a blogging site and go vote. Really, it’s not that hard. xoxo!
I think that today being a democratic citizen means something a lot different then it did for our parents or even our grandparents. Like we talked about in class earlier this semester, our parents grew up with only three main channels. When there was a political event broad-casted on television, they had no other choice but to tune in. In todays world we have hundreds of channel options. When a political event is on TV we do not have to watch it. We can pick and choose the information we get and where we get it from. They could not. When our grandparents were in their 20’s they had even less of selection for where they could access political information. Also today being politically involved means something different then it did back then. When our parents were in their 20’s in order to be politically active they had to go to political rallies and events like that. They were also dealing with desegregation of schools. Our parents generation would take greater personal risks to be politically involved. A lot of the rallies involving segregation laws would turn violent. Another type of event that they attended were peace rallies. There were a lot of events that they could attend. I would definitely say that our parents generation was far more politically active then we are today.
The only thing that held our parents and grandparents back as far as political involvement would be the social media available today. In order for them to spread ideas and write about their own thoughts, they would have to use resources such as newspapers and magazine. Today we can blog, Facebook, or twitter about our opinions. It takes no time at all for our generation to spread our opinions to thousands in minutes. This is an advantage that our parents and grandpaprents did not have. Our generation is more interested in following political figures or events on twitter then they are with actually attending these events. This is a major difference between our generation and the older generation. We would rather read about an event online then actually attend them. It is an interesting concept. We have the ease to spread around the time and place of an event but there seems to be a lack of drive to get people to attend these events. Overall I think today being a democratic citizen means something different then it did for our parents and our grandparents.
The Changing Nature of Civic Engagement and Political Involvement
In a world of constantly changing technology, media, information, communication, and politics the meaning of democratic citizenship is also continually changing. Bennett’s Changing Citizenship in the Digital Age includes some interesting information that emphasize the changing nature of civic engagement. A chart within this article lists different forms civic engagement and how involvement in that form of engagement by 18-25-year-olds has changed over the last decades. Some of the most convincing statistics include:
Attend a club meeting:down from 49 percent in 1976 to 23 percent in 2005
Member of at least one organization: down from 63.5 percent in 1976 to 54 percent in 2004.
Work on a community project:down from 29 percent in 1976 to 21 percent in 2005
Follow what’s going on in government and public affairs most of the time: down from 24 percent in 1976 to 10 percent in 2004.
Protests involving young people:down by about 50 percent
Vote in presidential election: basically unchanged from 1976 to 2004, but there was a deep decline in the 1980s and 1990s.
These statistics give the impression that other than voting, today’s youth have become politically disengaged and uninvolved in public affairs and civic duties. The fact of the matter though, is that the listed forms of civic engagement are in decline because of the emergence of a new digital form of political engagement.
New Forms of Participation
While clubs, organizations, community projects, and protests were the primary forms of exercising democratic citizenship among young people in the 1970’s, I would argue that the new forms of civic engagement that have replaced these forms of traditional participation include political participation via twitter, facebook, blogs, commenting on online news stories, sharing links, you tu be videos, and joining movements and campaigns online.
One concern of such forms of online political ‘involvement’ is whether or it is meaningful. Such forms of online involvement are very low-risk and require little actual action by the citizen. Is a simple click of ‘follow,’ ‘retweet,’ ‘join group,’ or ‘share link’ supposed to represent true political engagement and fulfillment of civic duties in a democratic society? While these forms of involvement may be massively popular in terms of the number of participants, this type of engagement is shallow. This worrisome conclusion is emphasized by the statistic that only 10% of America’s youth in 2004 said they follow what’s going on in government and public affairs most of the time, down from 24 percent in 1976. The good news is that 7 years have passed since the time this survey was taken, during which online political participation has had time to increase.
Future of Digital Citizenship?
The good news about this new form of digital political involvement and civic engagement is that it is new, and so the full impact and meaning of this new system has yet to be realized. Hopefully, as politicians, political organizations, the government, and news organizations discover the most effective ways to connect with their digital audienes via you tube, facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. the level of knowledge and concern for news, political policy, and other public affairs will increase, and with it the meaningfulness and impact of digital civic engagement and democratic citizenship.
“The Daily Me” as described by Cass R. Sunstein is a phenomena by which we, today’s consumers, so narrowly customize our media, politics, and news consumption that we sow the seeds of our own destruction.
Perhaps Sunstein was not so overly dramatic about it, but his view of new media technology and its effect on the media, communication, and information environment is certainly a pessimistic one. “The Daily Me”, according to Sunstein, causes a plethora of problems including, but not limited to, a narrowing of the information environment and its diversity, decreased common ground and shared interest to act as the “social glue” in democratic societies, and providing a personalized forum for terrorists and other anti-Democratic groups looking to spread their word.
Republic.com 2.0 was certainly an interesting read, especially for a member of a generation that has virtually grown up in this “Daily Me”, personalized information environment. In the first few chapters of his book, Sunstein goes into detail about the importance of general-interest intermediary (GII) sources, such as public forums or newspapers–sources that require the consumer to consume more than just a particular brand of information. According to Sunstein, general-interest intermediary sources such as newspapers are important because the consumer cannot simply choose what he or she wants to read. In the course of reading a newspaper, the consumer is forced to at least acknowledge various news stories that she might not have otherwise chosen to read about. Sunstein’s point in these chapters is that this exposure to a diversity of information is particularly important to democracy because it spreads knowledge, creates open mindsets, and allows citizens to connect to others despite differences.
Sunstein has a point. I enjoyed reading about GII, not only because I had never thought about the newspaper’s role in that manner, but because he certainly has a point about the importance of exposure to diverse information. Where I fall short with him is the assumption that the internet and new media technologies do not foster similar opportunities. As any Wikipedia article-hopper can tell you, it is quite easy to expose yourself to a variety of different information online, whether or not you originally set out to do so.
The various holes in his arguments aside, there were two main problems I had with Sunstein’s book. The first is a comment on style. Sunstein often seems confused about whether he wants to express himself colloquially or pedantically. As far as style goes, Republic.com 2.0 was mostly understandable, although Sunstein’s tendency to throw in more complicated, academic subjects, written in a pedantic fashion, resulted in a book that wasn’t completely user-friendly.
“If the public is balkanized, and if different groups are designing their own preferred communications packages, the consequences will be not merely the same but still more balkanization, as group members move one another toward more extreme points in line with their initial tendencies”
serves as a stark contrast to sentences such as
“When I opened the email, I learned that the attachment was a love letter.”
While I appreciated Sunstein’s use of informal language and structure in example paragraphs, the jump between styles made the reading feel inconsistent and petulant.
The second problem I had with his book is more content-centric. While Sunstein never claims to want to provide a solution to the problem of the “Daily Me”, he spends over 220 pages outlining a problem that he never gives a satisfying end to. “The Daily Me”, while interesting to read about and certainly relevant, is something a short paper could have sufficed to explain if Sunstein was not going to offer a plausible solution to this apparently earth-shattering problem.
His overly defensive language–he spends much of the time assuring “I have not suggested, and do not believe…” and “Nothing that I have said should be taken as an empirical argument…”–is uncomfortable enough to sift through, but add the constant repetition of themes and pessimism without mentioning counterarguments simply made the book long and his argument less credible, in my not-so-esteemed opinion.
Republic.com 2.0 definitely shed a new perspective–and a refreshing counterexample–to the ever-pervasive opinion that new media technology is good and only good, but I think the book could have been handled better. It could have been shorter, less repetitive, easier-to-read, and offered some kind of end solution so that I was not left, at the end, going “so what?”
I think to students of communications and political science, Republic.com 2.0 is a good book to offer new insight, but I would assign portions of the book, not the entire thing, to read. As for the average reader–I’m not particularly sure how much value they would glean from Sunstein and his analysis. Certainly not a bedtime story, anyway! xoxo!