A fantastic paragraph written by Alejandro Ribó from Personal Democracy Forum:

Young Europeans do not want political parties in their lives. Only 4% of young people (15-29 year olds) participate in a political party or trade union (on Euronews (2:02 mark) from Eurostat statistics). This is a clear figure of what young people want or do no want. Political party politicians and their acolytes would quickly blame the education system, capitalism, the television or even the Playstation for the lack of interest in politics of young people. They are blinded by their group thinking and narrow perspective of what politics is. Politics is not only, and not even mainly, about what political parties and their representatives (the so-called “politicians”) do. This fact, many people, including young people, know very well. I recommend the party people to go one night around bars in any city or town in Europe, to listen to what people are talking about. They talk about politics beyond political parties and their captive public institutions. They will be surprised to hear that there is political life outside the party. For politics is mainly about people and what they do, and not about organisations of any kind. That is why we need to reform the system to give chances to those who want to talk and participate in politics, but do not want to be captive of an organisation that has its own interests, often different than the interests of the rest of us.

Yes, it’s Europe, but it’s applicable. This is a reminder Washington needs. Because our political arena is so intensely focused on parties, we lose focus on myriad facets of politics: the people, their needs, the dialogue itself.

We saw the ramifications of this approach in New Jersey and Virginia, as both Democratic gubernatorial campaigns forgot that each political campaign is different with different candidates and different constituencies. Obama didn’t win because he made young voters think Democrats were cool; he won because he engaged young voters through his campaign’s bridge-building. Youth issues were identified, specific elements of the youth culture – like texting – were embraced, and he informed them he expected them to work not for him, but for their country. When a sitting governor and a gubernatorial candidate fail to do most of this yet expect results because they are Democrats too, they might as well retire. It won’t (and it didn’t) work.

Underneath all the pithy statements to the press regarding inconsequential events or subjects, the American people converse. Some can’t afford health insurance. Some youth, led into college thinking it would lead to success, have graduated and discovered employment is little more than a pipe dream. Many have lost their retirement thanks to the greed of those on Wall Street and their enablers in Washington. Yet who among those “important” people in our system hears this? Judging by their actions, I’d suppose no one.

This restoration of “politics” is one of the main tasks our generation will need to complete. As the excerpt above suggests, the emphasis of politics is people, not organizations. Once we begin associating politics with everyday conversations among everyday people, we’ll have a chance to actually improve America and focus on the common good.

Advertisements