Young Folks and Politics

Last month there was an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune by Blomberg’s Peter Orszag entitled,

“Why young people want nothing to do with politics?”

Politics youth disinterest Trib5-13-15

A survey of high school and college students found that 90% said they would not consider running for public office.

“What’s new?” was my reaction.

Back in the summer of 1974 I spoke to fourth or fight graders at the grade school on Green Street.

A little blond girl in the first or second row asked me if I would like to be President.

“Sure,” my 32-year old self answered.

“It’s the top of my profession?

“Wouldn’t you?”

I got a chorus of nos.

My guess was that it was the relentless reporting on the Watergate Scandal and the possible impeachment of President Richard Nixon.

Not a lot positive about politics that year.

Up to that point I had not given away any of the legislative scholarships.

I couldn’t think of a way to award them rationally.

That little girl inspired me.

Why not give kids an incentive to get involved?

I decided to have an application form in which, besides the usual stuff, potential college students would tell me what they had done in civic and/or public affairs.

A committee made the selections and I signed the forms for the students they selected.

That the process was a good one was ratified when I re-entered the Illinois House in 1993.

I asked the Legislative Printing Unit if anyone had scholarship applications.

What I was handed looked almost exactly what I had developed in 1974.

Since then, of course, such legislative scholarships have been abolished.

Not all had as objective awarding process.


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