Dear Grandparenting: So here we are in the middle of the most exciting presidential campaign I can remember. We may not always like it, but at least we’re engaged in what’s happening with Donald, Hillary, Bernie and Ted. This election will rock the boat no matter who wins. Everybody I know wants to talk about it, everybody except my grandchildren.
On the one hand, it’s very, very easy for grandchildren to become disillusioned with the political process. The system looks rigged to favor the top one-percent club. On the other hand, how are things ever going to get better if grandchildren drop out of the political process? What’s next, riots and revolution? We can’t go down that road. We need good citizens. So grandchildren have to find a reason to care, but who knows when or why? What’s your take on this? Mame, Kingsport, Tennessee
Dear Mame: We’re paying attention to the presidential race too. There’s a whole lot at stake and politics is great theater. So why don’t more grandchildren want to pull up a seat and watch the show?
It’s nothing new. Around the world, the young are the laggards when it comes to voting. Just 26 percent of the so-called “millennial” generation born between 1981-2000 voted in America’s last presidential election in 2012. No two people are alike, but here’s a short list of the usual reasons why grandchildren choose to sit it out.
What do they have to lose? Millennials are materially poorer than preceding generations their same age, with higher levels of student debt, poverty and unemployment. That kind of deprivation isn’t the sort of thing that puts people in a mind to think about settling down, getting married or getting their own place to live, and beginning to have a stake in society, the feeling you belong.
And when grandchildren do decide to settle down, they’re doing it later. Granddaughters are marrying later, if at all, and may want to pursue their careers. Hard times have driven down birth rates in many democracies. But when they start having kids, the big buy-in begins. That’s usually the game changer. They want security and a safe place to raise their children. Now it’s time to vote.
Or is it? The negativity and harsh rhetoric of party politics so evident during the presidential race is a turn-off to many. When millennials are asked about their political preferences, the majority identifies as Independent. On the whole, our elected representatives are abysmal. Their approval ratings are about the lowest of any profession. The big boys on Wall Street have a lot more say in Congress than the man on the street. “We don’t vote,” say America’s youth, “because they don’t care about me.” Here’s the piece they don’t get: Good citizens who vote are the best way to make a difference by changing the status quo.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Lainey Sanford, of Tempe, Arizona, says grandchildren “are timeless. They are a gift from yesterday, the joy of today and the hope of the future.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.