Pat MacEnulty

Pat MacEnulty
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
December 31
Writer and teacher. My most recent book, Wait Until Tomorrow: A Daughter's Memoir, is about taking care of my elderly mom. Published by The Feminist Press in 2011. I also give writing workshops on transformative writing.


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JULY 28, 2011 6:07PM

The Kids Are Not All Right, Glenn

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Glenn Beck compared the 68 Norwegian teenagers who were recently murdered in a horrific attack to “Hitler Youth.” Really. His rationale was that the young people were at a political camp. He somehow finds providing a camp for teenagers that focuses on politics to be “disturbing.” 

What I find to be disturbing is how few young people in our culture care or know about how the political system, which affects almost every aspect of their lives, operates.

I have observed an appalling lack of political knowledge among my college students. The majority of them are ignorant when it comes to the different platforms of the two major parties. They do not know about any important rulings of the Supreme Court. They have no idea how to register to vote. And they’ve no inkling how government policies impact everything from how much tuition they pay to the safety of their workplace. They also believe that they are powerless to change anything. 

The only thing they seem to be aware of is the price of gas. Now, that gets them fired up -- briefly. It doesn’t occur to them that more and better public transportation would solve many of their woes (including their worries about DUI’s).

My students are not stupid. Nor are they uncaring. But if anyone ever bothered to talk to them about politics it was too complain about paying taxes and having to support “lazy” people on welfare. Nothing of the nuances of public policy has drifted down through the cable news blather. 

A high school course in US Government is not enough. Most students sleep right through it. Our young people could use a camp to inform them about our political system -- not for brainwashing or propaganda but for the sole purpose of helping them understand our government, our economy, and the mechanics of change. But it’s pretty apparent why that wouldn’t be popular here. We might somehow get a system that was fairer and more inclusive if people knew how it worked. And people might not gullible enough to be swayed by the likes of Glenn Beck.

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