Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Youth and politic a challenge

Written by: on March 30, 2020

It’s very interesting how politics are still something young people show little interest in.

In his last chapter 5, Smith eludes this vital topic of “Civic and political disengagement”. It is nothing new to know that the percentage of young people who are involved in decisions regarding government policies is very small. Few have been the times that young people have risen without even voting. The last time a large percentage of young voters became known was when Obama came to the presidency, with 34% of young voters partly because he represents youth interests like equality.

Young people between 18 and 29 years of age and face problems to participate in the political life of the country due to “institutional obstacles,” according to the organization Youth Participation in Democratic Life pp 1-15. One of the questions is how to get young people to participate in decision-making to generate opportunities and better living conditions.

Opportunities and Challenges for Youth Civic Engagement Mindy Romero, Jonathan London, with Nancy Erbstein

Drawing from the analytical framework in Rios, Campbell and Romero (2010) this model describes

each YCE model based on three frames. These are defined as “Diagnostic” or defining the problem;

“Prognostic” or proposed solutions and “Motivational” or bases for mobilizing public action.

                                   Analytical Frame

(What is the problem?)

Prognostic (What are solutions?) Motivational

(Rationales to mobilize public action?)


Types of YCE


Formal political participation (voting, electoral activity, policy advocacy)



Youth political “apathy”

Youth lack an organized and self- determined voice and power-base


“Rock the Vote” efforts to increase registration and turn out

Youth building/ contributing to social movements on specific policy issues and pushing for greater representation


Voting as a foundation of a democratic society;

Increased voting improves civic attachment; improved electoral outcomes

Political action builds a sense of efficacy that can translate to other realms of behavior.


Participation in civic/community organizations, clubs, boards


Youth-serving organizations/ institutions lack youth voice

Youth lack leadership skills, navigational capital, and political savvy


Inclusion of youth representatives on boards/ commissions and other public bodies

Skills training in communication, professionalism, teamwork and related areas

Youth perspectives can enrich youth-serving organizations/ institutions

The principle of democratic representation

Skilled youth will be more effective as organizational and community leaders

Everyday civic engagement (helping in extended family, peers, neighborhood)  

Youth are isolated from peers; bystanders in addressing problems


Youth providing moral, emotional, physical, financial and other support for siblings, peers and broader youth community


Bonds of caring and compassion are contributed both to an immediate sense of well-being and as a basis for trust and reciprocity needed for social mobilization



Political Parties tend to forget youth. Lost in transition

It is essential for us that young people are present in all spaces, particularly political ones, in terms of democratic construction. However, “political parties and independent candidates do not seem to be looking at young people, as they do not have young candidates, they lack a youth agenda, and they are not interested in the young vote.”
And that lack of interest is reflected in the low political participation of youth. In essence, data from the National Electoral Institute show that youth political abstention rates exceed 40% in federal elections and are even higher in local elections.

Dr. Kimberly C. Thornbury, Ph.D. Vice President for Student Services and Dean of StudentsUnion University, makes an interesting stamen and says, “One may think that all emerging adults are busy “occupying Wall Street.” However, “the idea that today’s emerging adults are as a generation leading a new wave of renewed civic-mindedness and political involvement is sheer fiction” (227). Smith quotes Wendell Berry: “There is, in practice, no such thing as autonomy. Practically, there is only a distinction between responsible and irresponsible dependence” (195). Places such as Union University are working intentionally to develop a responsible Christian community. While some may deride the culture creation and intentionality of Christian campuses as a “bubble”, others may use the rich phrase “sacred canopy” to describe this sense of shared vision, environment for mentoring, and deep engagement with Christ-centered intellectuals. Successful graduates of such schools will have a sense of vocation a calling and a career as well as a holistic sense of how to use their God-given gifts in the world”.


[1]Youth Participation in Democratic Life pp 1-15

Smith, C., Christofferson, K., Davidson, H., & Herzog, P. S. (2011).

Lost in transition: The dark side of emerging adulthood. New

York, NY: Oxford University Press.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/president-obama-and-the-misunderstood-youth-vote/2012/04/23/gIQAuGIQdT_blog.html access 3/30/2020

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057%2F9781137540218_1 access 3/30/2020


[1] Youth civic engagement is an important component of building pathways to opportunity for young people and is also a critical dimension of efforts to build healthy and vital communities and regions.

About the Author

Joe Castillo

6 responses to “Youth and politic a challenge”

  1. Shawn Cramer says:

    I’m reminded of “social slactivism” of youth culture by your post. I’ve experienced that so much when helping students get “boots on the ground” in issues of justice or needs in the city.

  2. Darcy Hansen says:

    My daughter attends an art school and has observed that many students are interested in politics, especially the critique thereof, especially through artistic mediums. I wonder if certain groups of youth are more engaged than others? What do you observe in your community? How engaged are the youth/emerging adults/young adults of your community involved justice or political initiatives within your community? In what ways does your church facilitate such involvement?

  3. Greg Reich says:


    When I was a youth pastor in Wyoming in the early 80’s I was told by members of my youth group that they were automatically Christians because they were Americans. I was shocked to see over time how many looked at God and the American government as almost the same. It was not uncommon to see the American flag in the front of churches. To be politically active was to be Christian back in the mid 1900’s. Today in a secular age politics and church don’t often meet and when they do some will miss quote the 1st amendment claiming the separation of church and state. Within the latino culture have you seen a shift away from faith in God to a faith in government? Do young people put more trust and hope in government than they do in their faith in God?

  4. Joe Castillo says:

    Young people in the Latino world are divided depending on the generation. My kids from age 16 to 21 have more faith in God than the political and religious establishment

  5. John McLarty says:

    Statistically speaking, while young people often speak loudly and appear passionate about issues, they don’t show up to the ballot box. Savvy politicians know how to harness their energy to drive excitement in a campaign, but stop short of letting them drive the agenda. Just watch what’s happening in the Sanders campaign- young voters love him, but they aren’t voting. It almost becomes a sad manipulation or pandering rather than actual engagement.

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