I took some time today to review the findings of a recent poll commissioned by the New York Times/CBS News/MTV of young adults (ages 17-29) looking at cultural views that might shape their voting choices in 2008. The article indicated that those polled leaned slightly more “left” than the population as a whole but I am always suspicious of those kinds of observations. The group does appear a little more open-minded, at least when it comes to social/cultural issues such as gay unions or universal health care. But what I find most intriguing are the dichotomies that come through. For example, 51% appear more optimistic about a favorable outcome in Iraq, a higher percentage than for adults as a whole, yet 70% believe the country is headed in the wrong direction; obviously more than the war is troubling them. While 77% said they felt the votes of their generation would have significant bearing on who would become the next president, the percentage of those who said they were paying close attention to the race was 51%. That’s a much higher percentage of those interested than in 2004 in this age group but I wonder why the other 26% who think the youth vote will have an impact aren’t paying close attention. Are they planning to vote? Finally, while the poll showed that only two candidates generated enthusiasm among the young voters (Clinton and Obama , with Clinton paradoxically also scoring high for negative recognition), I thought it was far more interesting that fewer than 40% were excited about anyone running. The candidates hopefully understand how unpredictable the youth vote really is; clearly the young voters seem to realize that their very unpredictability makes them as significant as a majority of them thought they were.
Archive for June, 2007
Yesterday’s post got me thinking so instead of posting today, I’m directing my readers to an updated piece I just posted. Head to the top, click on writings and then on “Uncivil Society.” You can comment back here or over there – and I really hope you do!
Ann Coulter managed to get in the news again. You can read about it here or elsewhere; I’m busy scratching because she gets under my skin. It’s not her politics. I want to hear what people with differing points of view are thinking; it’s the first step in finding common ground amongst reasonable people. That’s my litmus test, by the way: reasonable. By that standard (which admittedly doesn’t allow for entertainment value), Coulter flunks. True, her type of invective can be found all over the Internet but most of the stuff seems to be written by hormonally challenged young men. Coulter’s brand of bitchiness, for which she is well-compensated, also runs the gamut from juvenile to purile to cruel. She’s like Michael Richards or any number of low-rent late-night comics, but without the comic appeal. She’s called a conservative commentator, which should make real conservatives with concerns about the role of government or culture in our society hang their heads in shame. Yet they just keep on paying her to appear on morning shows, evening shows, book signings and conferences. I’ve been told her appeal is that she says what others are thinking. If people’s thoughts are running along the lines of personal attacks, ethnic slurs and the like, we’re pretty screwed in this country. But maybe I’m just being too PC. It could be her potty mouth, long hair and short skirts are nothing more than entertainment value. Which leads me to believe we’re still screwed.
As I prepare to download his new album, “Memory Almost Full,” to iTunes, I am thinking about my lifelong love affair with Paul McCartney. When I was sixteen, it was all about his looks, combined with my hormones. I mean, that amazing voice, those puppy eyes! No one else could make me swoon like that and I stayed attracted to wide-eyed, floppy-haired guys for a period of time. Later in his career, while I was still struggling with mine as a young singer-songwriter, I was taken with his musicianship. The man was simply brilliant. I was less thrilled with the music he created with his band Wings. Still, I found plenty to admire and envy about his devoted relationship with his wife Linda, even as I was looking for love in all the wrong places. Nowadays, my feelings for Paul are as strong as ever. His apparent optimism and his open-minded and open-hearted take on life are a breath of fresh air. He is a role model and a reminder that I don’t need to view growing older with nearly the dread that I do. It doesn’t hurt that he’s made a killer album. Or that halfway through his sixties, he still has that amazing voice and those puppy eyes.
I thought nothing could excite me as much as the impending release of the final Harry Potter installment, even though I know something horrible will happen to a couple of the characters. But I’m kind of stirred up about the new iPhone from Apple. It all started with this very blog, for which I wanted to create podcasts. I am a Windows kind of gal but I needed a new laptop and the Mac notebook looked like it would do the trick. And those stores – talk about a retail experience! Sleek, sophisticated, user friendly and for less than a hundred bucks a year, I get one on one lessons in how to do anything creative I can think of using a Mac (don’t go there; I already did). The point is, I didn’t think I needed the latest gadget until Steve Jobs came along with his siren song and I was once again seduced. The iPhone combines an awful lot of things into one package that appears easy to use. True, never in a million years did I think I wanted to scan a site or watch a movie or, god help me, a YouTube video on a screen so small that even reading glasses won’t help. Yet I am considering switching carriers so I can get my hands on one of those babies. Bye-bye BlackBerry! Nix the Nano! Momma needs a new gadget
I am waiting for my insurance company to cover some physical therapy visits from last February. While I’m on hold for the umpteenth time to talk to the umpteenth person, I’m reading a review of Michael Moore’s new movie “Sicko” and thinking I really ought to see it. I mean, I may not be as desperate (yet) as some of those fighting their insurance companies, but I can relate. And look at this: the new movie starring Angelina Jolie, “A Mighty Heart” seems as if it would be quite moving. I’m especially interested in a scene this review referred to where Jolie’s Marianna Pearl puzzles one observer because she isn’t crying. Later she observes that she’s not crying because she’s angry. I can relate; when my husband was killed on 9/11, there were plenty of tears but also days of cold-eyed fury on my part. Still on hold and listening to dumb elevator music, I see that Paris Hilton has been offered a million dollars for a post-jail interview; apparently said interview sparked a bidding war between NBC and ABC. You know, I can relate. Oh wait, no I can’t.
If we’re really honest about it, we hold opinions about most everything, which makes trying to stay open-minded challenging. Even more trying is the notion that we are greatly affected by what psychiatrist Drew Westen calls “networks of associations: bundles of thoughts, feelings, sounds, images, memories, and emotions that have become linked through experience.” Dr. Westen uses his analysis to explain why reaching out to voters with facts, figures and positions is much less likely to succeed than the well-crafted emotional appeal. Reading this, the left side of my brain was immediately offended. Reason and reasonable discussion seem to me to be the most honest and least manipulative approach one can take, whether putting forward a candidate or trying to solve an intractable problem like the Middle East. And yet the right side of my brain, constantly torn between hope and worry and optimism and anger over the state of affairs here and abroad, understands viscerally that parts of the brain are wildly unpredictable and out of reach, even to their owners. That’s got to frustrate Al Gore.