(Cross-Posted on Knowledge
As nearly any reader of Knowledge
or North Star Politics
will be aware, SCOTUS Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist died this weekend, creating another vacancy on the Supreme Court and giving John Roberts a chance to become the chief justice
. I was busy moving to school this weekend, but even so, I was taken aback at the scarcity of any discussion about this momentous event.
Granted, there is a lot going on recently. There's no reason that Rehnquist should necessarily be the top priority for students returning to school. And certainly, the coverage of his death has largely been bumped for news of the aftermath of Katrina. Even so, however, Roberts' impending ascent to the position of chief justice will have enormously greater effects on younger people than on, say, our parents. If only the interest about the event were proportional.
It's pretty well-known how politically apathetic our generation is. I don't have numbers easily available, but not nearly enough 18-25 year olds vote as compared to 60-67 years olds, for example. This is especially troubling when one thinks about the investment in the future that these two groups have. Younger people have many more years of life ahead of them, many more dollars that will be taxed, many more decisions to make that could be affected by who's running the government. People over forty may care about reproductive rights, but they'll rarely be directly affected by whether they have access to safe and legal (but always rare) abortion. Senior citizens may care about the national debt, but it's those of us under thirty who will be paying off much more of it.
In short, though the issues affect us more directly than most realize, younger people just don't seem to care about politics as much as older folks do. It's a real problem, one which I'm rather interested in, being a politically-inclined young person myself. There's no one single cause, nor, as with so many things, is there a single solution. I'll continue writing about this, however, so consider this post the first of a series.