Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rep. Lyla Berg Comments on Creating Vibrant Democracy

Tomorrow, Sept. 17th, is Constitution Day. It's a day created by Congress in 2004 for people to reflect on our country's democracy and whether our government is living up to its mandate of being "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Rep. Lyla Berg wrote a commentary for The Honolulu Advertiser on what is needed to create and maintain a vibrant democracy which was published in this morning's paper. Despite our efforts in civic education, she sees some troubling signs:

Yet two troubling trends underlie the increase in youth turnout. First, we risk being lulled into the false assumption that youth voting is all we need to ensure a healthy democracy. Second, the young people who do vote are disproportionately white and middle or upper class. Both these trends represent serious threats to the legitimacy of American democracy.

Active citizenship demands far more than spending a few minutes in a voting booth. To determine the health of our democracy, we need to ask more of our young people. Are they reading the newspaper? Are they discussing politics and public policy with friends, family, teachers? Are they engaged in local politics? Are they participating in community service?

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