At the end of last November and the beginning of December, Peace, Justice & Environment Project (PJEP) volunteers worked hard to keep the 41 websites serving 50 states current with actions appearing across the country, which were protests of the Obama Afghanistan escalation. There were 99 events posted, by far the most comprehensive list available on the web. Nevertheless, though attendance was often excellent at these events, it was usually older activists.
Though some activists posted the wider list to Facebook, Facebook events were mostly not linking to other Facebook actions in other locations. Twitter, profoundly effective at encouraging worldwide attention on events in Iran, was strangely absent from the almost 100 events occurring across the U.S.
This obviously points to young people not being as motivated to fight the Obama escalation as their older activist associates. If young people were not Twittering their friends to attend events, then it is likely young people were not consumed by the particular issue. There is another thing suggested. Not only were young people not feeling compelled to congregate, young people were possibly not feeling empowered to make their feelings known. There is the possibility that former young supporters of Obama are responding to these developments by returning to a state of noninvolvement.
In other words, assuming that young people were often against the escalation and that young people were not demonstrating their objection, then we can predict a dramatic drop in young people showing up to vote in the next election.
In a blog posting of December 2, the second day of demonstrations, Paul Krugman discussed the increasing likelihood of a double-dip Great Recession. Krugman described the repercussions of the Obama economic intervention resulting in a drift back into severe recession. Though the piece did not discuss a combination of recession, war in Afghanistan and a resurgence in the number of Republicans elected congressmen and senators, the absence of youth in our streets suggests this scenario.
There now emerges the strong possibility that deep systemic change will only occur at state levels. The federal government’s ability to initiate change is disappearing before our eyes. The Senate will not approve executive support of international treaties. Environmental legislation is deeply compromised. The federal government behaves as if incapable of legislating additional large-scale job programs. Congress will not inhibit presidential right-leaning initiatives. The president cannot push left-leaning legislation through the Congress.
If the young do not exhibit their passion, the positive energy of our country’s government is destined to disappear.
The Afghanistan protests were a season ago. The repercussions of these demonstrations will be with us for a while.