To make teens care, politicians must ditch the scripts

  • RANDY ADAMS / edge correspondent
  • Monday, August 21, 2000 9:00pm
  • Local News

If there was ever a question as to why so many teen-agers are turned off by politics, it was answered at the recent Republican and Democratic conventions.

The answer: The people who are our leaders are really scripted, poll-reading faces.

It isn’t the stereotype of the boring politician that causes young people to roll their eyes. It’s the fact that Republican nominee George W. Bush and Democratic nominee Al Gore come across more as puppets than real people.

They are advised and re-advised on every word, every hand gesture. Any emphasis in the speech or display of emotion is pre-approved. This is not the conduct of genuine personalities, and anyone can see right through the entire act.

Bush and Gore might as well be giant balloons from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, filled with the input of a hundred analysts and advisers who tell them how to speak, react and dress.

There is absolutely no spontaneity in this race for the White House, which is why the majority of teen-agers probably wouldn’t be able to recognize the names of vice presidential nominees Dick Cheney or Joseph Lieberman.

This isn’t to say our system doesn’t work. In the end, the important issues will be heard and voted on by a majority. The position of president will be filled, some bills will be signed, others will be vetoed.

Not because of the president’s own beliefs, but because the polls and his advisers tell him what to do.

The voice of the people will be heard, and interpreted by analysts, who will tell the president, who in turn will try to make us believe that these had been his thoughts all along. Democracy will prevail, but the days of celebrated presidents seems to be well over.

So Generation Y loses all interest in the process. We can agree with them, but we can’t like them. We likewise disagree, but it’s hard to hate a person for reading something someone else wrote on a TelePrompTer.

Polls have managed to suffocate enough charisma out of W and Al that it makes one wish for a national crisis just so we can watch someone get mad.

That’s what makes the game exciting enough to recapture our interest.

The personal charms of a leader are what draw us to listen to his ideas. Personality matters so much more than the issues initially. For instance, the average high school junior can tell you all about the cigars and oral sex of Clinton’s presidency, but who among us really knows what Medicare is, anyway?

Just give us something that might make us turn our heads and know where you are on things. Pound your fist when you are upset about HMOs or embrace your wife with a passionate kiss onstage at the convention.

The youth of America, the future voters, won’t pay attention to a discussion on Social Security until the system once again allows our leaders to be real, tangible people.

If the monotony of this race doesn’t prove that, then an even lower voting rate among young people in the near future will.


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