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Youth to Power: How Today's Young Voters Are Building Tomorrow's Progressive Majorityby Michael Connery
Synopses & Reviews
Nearly half of today's young voters under thirty — the Millenial Generation — identify themselves as Democrats, and they voted overwhelmingly Democratic in the 2006 election. Since youthful voting habits are a strong indicator of future party loyalty, we may be seeing the beginnings of a boon for the Democratic Party, which may ultimately lead to a progressive resurgence in American politics.
In combination with their progressive ideals, the Millenials are both civic-minded and entrepreneurial, having come of age in a world marked by an unprecedented revolution in technology. Using their unsurpassed social and technological skills, they have fostered a community spirit that is beginning to reverse the decades-long decline in civic engagement that was famously recorded by Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone.
Youth to Power: How Today's Young Voters Are Building Tomorrow's Progressive Majority examines how today's young people are combining technology with a vigorous social spirit to revive progressive politics. In addition to recounting the history of youth politics since its emergence in the 1972 election, as well as showing where the progressive youth movement still lags behind its more organized conservative counterpart, the book also offers an insider look at the major figures and organizations of the progressive youth boom, and identifies strategies that the Democratic Party can use to capitalize on its new advantages with young voters.
"In this quick, matter-of-fact analysis of current youth participation in politics, Music for America co-founder, Connery argues that we are in the midst of a revival of youth civic involvement. Enabled by the internet, grassroots organizers are engaging youth and completing the work abandoned by the Democratic Party and mainstream progressives. Having organized get-out-the-vote efforts in 2004 and blogged about youth politics for various progressive web sites, Connery approaches his subject with an authority that is simultaneously his greatest strength and greatest liability. Insider knowledge informs stellar reporting of the rift between grassroots hip-hop activists and celebrity moguls such as Russell Simmons ('In more ways than one, Simmons was and still is quite literally selling civic engagement to black youth along with soft drinks and sneakers.'). However the author's attachment to his topic also feeds a tendency to descend into lengthy, acronym-laden dissections of the histories of youth political organizations and their minute workings. Such sections may interest progressive organizers and politicians looking for an overview of the youth voting landscape-and with an election on the horizon, such a release is timely-but may put-off the casual reader." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Young people don't vote. Or so the old stereotype goes. Yet, voters under 30 helped put Democrats back in power on Capitol Hill in 2006, and they turned out in record numbers in the protracted primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In "Youth to Power," Michael Connery explains both the origin of the stereotype and why it's no longer correct. He traces the... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) history of the youth vote from the excitement of the 1972 election (a year after the 26th Amendment reduced the voting age to 18) to a low point in 1996, when barely 40 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds went to the polls. With a few exceptions, turnout among young voters steadily declined in the '80s and '90s. The downturn was partly generational, Connery contends; the glorified activism of the '60s served as "an inspiration" but also as "a burden," particularly for left-leaning youth. It was as if young liberals took a long break. Meanwhile, the '70s and '80s witnessed what Connery calls the rise of the GOP's "conservative youth factory," including such groups as the Young America's Foundation and the College Republican National Committee. Generation X swung right, becoming "one of the most Republican demographics in the country," he writes, but also exhibiting a high rate of political apathy. No more. The generation that came of age since 2000, the Millennials, is the most ethnically diverse in U.S. history and, Connery says, one of the "most civic-minded." Millennials also lean left: In 2002, 37 percent of young voters self-identified as Democrats and 39 percent as Republicans. Four years later, the figures had reversed, with 31 percent Republican and 43 percent Democrat. Connery is a liberal activist. By contrast, after reading "Party Crashing," it's hard to tell where author Keli Goff stands in partisan terms — and that's exactly her point. "That black Americans are Democrats," she notes, "has been one of the most reliable truisms" in politics. But, in her view, the current hip-hop generation is not easily pigeonholed: About 30 percent of black Americans between 18 and 35 identify as independents, and they do not share a "single black political agenda." Race matters, Goff writes in her engaging book full of pop-culture references, but to young blacks who grew up in the world of O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant, what matters even more is "money, fame, power and who your defense attorney is." Jose Antonio Vargas is a political reporter for The Washington Post. Reviewed by Jose Antonio Vargas, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Michael Connery has written a spirited and savvy guide to the 'Millennial' Generation that is reshaping progressive youth politics. If you want to understand the ideas, action, spirit and people building the progressive majority of our future — read this book!" Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation
How the Millennial Generation is reigniting progressive politics in America.
About the Author
Michael Connery was a co-founder of Music for America, an organization that had great success getting out the youth vote during the 2004 election. He currently blogs about progressive youth politics at Futuremajority.com, and is also a weekend front-page writer at MyDD.com, as well as a contributor to TechPresident.com and the Huffingon Post's "Off the Bus" blog.
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