I have hope that there are some looking beyond the bickering within the Democratic Party and having substantive discussions on policies and their effects. Want to know where this elevated level of discourse is happening? It's among young voters on social networking sites.
While many of the party old-timers are stuck in the rut of "digging in and defending your candidate" no matter how much it harms the party, the discussions from young voters and politicos on sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Glee more often than not are actually about policy differences between the candidates.
Now more than ever, young voters are looking at individual issues with an in-depth and nuanced stance. And when the discussions dissolve into "distraction issues," the commenters on the threads quickly put things back on the right track. A great example of an in-depth fresh look from a Facebooker on the gas holiday is after the jump...
This great little thought nugget comes from a good friend of mine. He posted it to his Facebook page and has gotten tons of comments and discussion on it. I think it is the first actual look at an issue that doesn't take needless swipes at anyone, but seems to really struggle with a position taken by Clinton:
Please don't get me wrong - I have always been a fan of Senator Clinton in some way, and still am. She's a wonk, kinda nerdy, she likes to talk about the finer points of policy and has, as a Senator, found ways to work with the then-majority party to make the laws of the land better.
But few things anger me more than this Gas Tax holiday idea. Senator Clinton has been saying that her experience and her substance make her the best candidate to be president. So why, then, would she sign on to Senator George W. McCain's short-sighted, ineffective, and ultimately damaging gas-tax holiday?
Politics As Usual.
I hate to see Senator Clinton do this. She's smart, and has always been good on environmental issues. Why would she endorse a counter-productive plan that takes money away the highway trust fund, a fund that creates jobs for infrastructure repair? Why would she want to endorse a plan that creates an incentive for more consumption? Why would she endorse a plan that would benefit the most wasteful drivers, a plan that would disproportionately benefit the wealthy?
Politics As Usual.
There are so many better ways to get money into the hands of people who need it. Increases for food-stamps. A stimulus plan that helps get people out of debt and gets some cash into an economy. A middle-class family of four would get, at most, $100 over the 3-month course of the summer gas-tax repeal. That doesn't help, really, and the Senator knows that.
It's sad that the shoe is on the other foot, but much like 1992, it's Change versus More of the Same. It's about Real Substance and Effective Policies versus pandering and expediency.
I think a hard, smart look at an issue that could really affect people, like this gas holiday, is becoming increasingly rare in the political discourse. I also think it shows how many young voters are educating each other through modern technology about policy differences rather than wallowing in distractions like "bittergate" or Clinton's pantsuits.
Perhaps it is the younger generation moving beyond divisive politics. Maybe youth are not as hung up on race or gender as older generations and can look at the issues better. Who knows?
One thing is clear- young voters are getting more involved than ever. They are reaching out to each other, talking about things that are important to them, and rallying their friends. Maybe the rest of the politicos could learn a lesson on in-depth discourse, rather than sound bite bickering, from the newly energized youth.