I have had this insult thrown my way periodically from high school students for a year now. Yesterday, one student flung it my way; I think she was trying to test my boundaries and what buttons she could push to ruffle my feathers. What is odd about it is that at their age, these kids tend to harbor a lot of apathy when it comes to anything political.
What is that insult? Generally, it goes along the line of, “You like President Bush, don’t you?” The tone of the question is far more accusatory than inquisitive. I tend to answer, “Well, personally, I don’t, but that’s not the issue (or topic, theme, lesson, problem, et cetera) here,” and quickly move on. I figure that it is better to be truthful — than to try to lie or dodge the question — and to get right back to whatever we were doing before that tangent could gain control.
Such a question seems odd when it comes from the mouth of a teenager, and some sociologist should study this phenomena further to see if there is a trend here. I think it may signal a possible shift in the political consciousness of teens that hasn’t been seen since the 1960s. From the 70s through the 90s and even into this decade, the vast majority of students not only appeared uninterested in politics, they seemed to actively stay away from it.
Maybe they are a part of the political pendulum, where their involvement and interest in the civic arena waxes and wanes. I don’t have conclusive proof of that theory, but if we should see a rise in voter turnout among eighteen to twenty-five year olds in the coming years, we may have one indicator to suggest that today’s teenage flippancy could translate into political interest and activity.