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A New Generation; A New Politics

On Tuesday, August 5th, I’ll be participating in a forum at the Montross TEA Party on engaging young people in politics. After months of giving this topic a great deal of thought, I’ve realized that there is no trick to getting young people interested in politics. In fact, instead of thinking about what is necessary to get young people engaged, I’ve instead focused on what motivated adults to either engage, or to give up. As we all know, the vast majority of adult Americans are as ignorant and disengaged as their teenage children. The problem isn’t that “kids avoid politics”, it’s that there are a whole host of reasons why people avoid politics, and avoid it like the plague.

I could name a thousand reasons why people neglect their civic duties, but I think three reasons will suffice. First, politics is too broad, with too many moving parts, too many adversarial players, and too many decision-makers to be completely comprehended by people who spend fifty hours a week at work, fifteen hours a week with their family, thirteen hours a week in front of a television, and the rest of it in bed. The very intimation that they could ever be truly informed is simply ridiculous.

The second reason why people do not engage in politics, is because they do not possess a fundamental philosophy from which to manifest an honest and realistic political point of view. You can ask someone how they feel about abortion or how they feel about the death penalty, and they’ll have opinions on these things. That said, people that are willing to kill babies seem oddly opposed to the murder of criminals, and people who support the State’s implementation of a death penalty seem oddly opposed to State sanctioned killing of unborn children. So, everyone has an opinion on a variety of hot button issues, but hardly anyone has a philosophy from which those opinions are derived. Unfortunately, most of the time, people believe what their family believes, what their friends believe, what their church believes, or what the authors of the books they read believe, because they cannot find a justification for a strong set of independent beliefs predicated on their own individual experience.

The third reason why people do not engage in politics, is because of the obvious corruption within nearly every process and political body in our society. We see corruption in our local school boards, in our town councils, city governments, state governments, in the United States Congress, and in the White House. People aren’t stupid. They know how corrupt our politicians and bureaucrats are, and they don’t believe that there is a damn thing they can do about it. Wall Street, K Street, George Soros, Karl Rove, the RNC, the DNC, our Governors, and our President seem to have a monopoly on power in this country, and most Americans just feel honored that from time to time some opinion they hold happens to win the day in Washington, or Annapolis, or Richmond. It creates the appearance of a Republic, when what we’ve really got is a Democratic Oligarchy, funded by Corporatist and Socialists alike, playing the real game, while we, the average citizen, pretend influence in local and federal elections.

These are three powerful reasons not to get too excited about politics or civic duty or even in educating ourselves. These aren’t reasons that only effect kids. They effect everyone.

So, when considering a plan for doing something to actually get people involved in politics, I think our answer has to be in response to the three reasons above.

Do you want to get your friends, your children, or your parents interested in politics? Then talk to them about liberty. Now, you can’t just say, “Freedom is better than slavery”. Of course it is. Socialists would agree with that statement. You need to read about the history and philosophy of liberty. You need to read and understand John Locke, Montesquieu, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, David Hume, John Stuart Mill, Isaiah Berlin, and Ayn Rand (Links will direct you to books worth reading). If you really want to understand the foundations for the philosophical thought upon which these thinkers derived their beliefs, then you’ll need to read Aristotle and Plato, Saint Augustine, and Saint Thomas Aquinas. The only way to get around the chaos and confusion caused by a broken Republic and a runaway Democracy is to understand the philosophies of freedom and to study their historical applications. You might want to read about the Icelandic Commonwealth. You might want to read about our Founders and Framers, about Calvin Coolidge, about Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan.

Believe me, it is a great deal easier to read about these men and to learn to understand their ideas, than it is to piece together the fragmented and confounding mess which is democracy in the twenty-first century. There is only one way to fight a government and that is through self-reliance and self-education.

Once you have a concrete philosophy and world view, liberated from contradictions and false premises, then you may engage the most vigorous proponents of this form of government or that, of this policy or that, without feeling as though you lack the intellectual framework with which to enter into such discussions!

My appeal to children and adult men and women to engage in politics is this: “our government is corrupt. If we remain ignorant and if we do nothing, if we submit, go along, and refuse to engage, then we will be forced to sit here and watch our liberty erode at an exponential pace!”. Yes, our political process is corrupt. Yes, we are up against the wealthiest people in the United States, Europe, and the world, and yes, we are up against a government utterly separated from the lives of average Americans. Yes, there is an embargo on civics in our schools, because, and of course, our governments do not want an educated citizenry.

Do you want to stand up? Then you must educate yourself, you must pay attention, get involved, fight the good fights when there are good fights to be fought, and most importantly, to stand up for something (not just against something). Teenagers and young adults must ask themselves these questions: Do you want to be ruled or do you want to be free? Do you want to be responsible for yourself or do you want others to take responsibility of your life for you? What freedoms are you actually willing to sacrifice for the realization of the ideals of others?

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What motivates adult Americans to engage in politics? It is the things they are for, and because they are for things they are against things. Because they are for things, because they have educated beliefs or even uneducated desires, they are motivated to engage government, to grab hold of that government and to direct it toward their will. When the insane hold our government, our government will be directed toward the insane. When the corrupt hold our government, our government will be directed toward corruption. When good, virtuous, freedom-loving people grab hold of our government, then we will be free. There is no other way, no secret path, no trick, no slight of hand, or easy fix. It’s only through the arduous commitment to fight for something that will motivate others to get involved and to fight beside us. Freedom is the flag of this fight, the banner of our movement.

Some teenagers and young adults will love the concept and philosophy of liberty, while others will choose to oppose it; that liberty, its concepts and philosophies, is the substance involved in the political matters that effect our lives is a reality. We must embrace liberty with our intellect, as much as with our heart. We must be consistent – contradictions send all rational minds running (and for good reason). Philosophy, knowledge, and action are the keys to restoring liberty in a America.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this lesson wasn’t taught to our older generations, by the young people in this country, as opposed to the other way around, before all is said and done in this struggle against our government.

About Steven Brodie Tucker

Graduated with a degree in Philosophy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Also studied economics and political science at George Mason.

2 Responses to “A New Generation; A New Politics”

  1. Robert Shannon says:

    Steve picks up a pen and or keyboard and wisdom sprouts from his wise counsel. Kudo’s to Steve for his willingness to share his great gift.

    Add to this the fact that the apathy, well documented stems from a genuine disenchantment of both political parties, and the almost rare difference in their policy . While they may profess during a political campaign or debate to have large philosophical differences, in practice they are much more aligned in actual policy than many conservatives might be comfortable in admitting.

    In the course of a Voter Registration drive I was working some years back a woman who I chatted with admitted she was not registered to vote, and explained to me her reasoning was ” it didn’t make any difference” so why vote. Now at that time I argued that she was just intellectually lazy and she stormed off.

    If I were to see her today I would offer her my sincerest of apologies, because in hindsight perhaps she has a very valid point. The last two republican presidential candidates just could not excite the base, even with such a glaringly poor performance by our current President IN HIS FIRST TERM, he handily won re-election. One must ask the question WHY ?

    Unless and until a clear unambiguous difference exists between the 2 major party candidates ( or Libertarians catch fire) we continue on the same trajectory. Put another way as Rush Limbaugh said on his radio program 8 months ago, “republicans really don’t want smaller government, they just want a turn at running it”

    Bob Shannon

  2. CUT DC says:

    “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!”

    Pericles (430 B. C.)

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    Tom White Says:

    Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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