The withdrawal of young Americans from electoral politics has been as startling as it has been mystifying. Possible explanations for this phenomenon have focused on increased levels of cynicism and distrust among young voters, the behavior of candidates and campaign consultants, and the importance of institutional barriers to voting. Then came the 2004 election, when nearly 47 percent of eligible 18-to-24-year-olds turned out to vote—an 11 percent increase over 2000 levels. In the wake of this surprising development, Fountain of Youth looks at the tactics and strategies for youth mobilization—from improved civic education to recasting the theme of "Rock the Vote" to reinvigorating political parties. Indeed, the book includes new and innovative research on the role of local political parties in registering and getting young voters to the polls. This volume will be of interest to scholars, teachers, practitioners, pundits-in short, anyone concerned about the future of our democracy.
Shea and Green have assembled a rigorous and broad compendium of research findings and proposals regarding the political participation of young Americans. A consistent theme throughout the eleven diverse, thoughtful chapters is the importance of taking young people seriously. This book should influence research and political strategy as the Millennial Generation takes its place in the American electorate.
Fountain of Youth is essential reading for those interested in the ways that parties, activists, and scholars view the past, present, and future of youth involvement in politics.
In a concise, comprehensive and readable collection, Fountain of Youth serves as an excellent discussion and analysis of the issues surrounding the participation of youth in American politics and the strategies and tactics that can be used to engage young voters. Shea and Green, two accomplished scholars, draw on their research and the scholarship of an impressive group of colleagues to provide us with an important discussion of why engaging this generation matters. It is a must read book for those who want to understand the role of youth in our political system.
Daniel M. Shea is professor of political science and director of the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College. John C. Green is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and director of the Roy C. Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron.
Part 1 Background on Youth Participation in America Chapter 2 The Turned Off Generation? Fact and Fiction Part 3 Political Parties and Mobilization of Young Voters Chapter 4 Throwing a Better Party? Local Political Parties and Youth Vote Chapter 5 Tales from the Trenches: Party Organizations that Are Connecting with Young Citizens Chapter 6 Building Party Identification in the Young and Revitalizing Democracy Part 7 Civic Education and Youth Engagement: Past, Present, and Future Chapter 8 Civic Knowledge, Civic Education, and Civic Engagement Chapter 9 Political Participation and Service-Learning: Civic Education as Problem and Solution Chapter 10 Promoting Diversity in Democracy: Mobilizing the Hip Hop Generation Part 11 Non-Partisan Organizations and Turning out the Youth Vote Chapter 12 Youth Political Engagement: Why Rock the Vote Hits the Wrong Note Chapter 13 Mobilizing the Youth Vote in 2004 and Beyond Chapter 14 Young Voter Mobilization Projects in 2004 Part 15 Conclusion Chapter 16 Faces of the Future