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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Youth Politics

In our discussion of political participation, we pay special attention to youth activism. Inside Higher Ed reports:

As the midterm elections saw a handful of Tea Party-affiliated candidates vying for major offices, student clubs sprouted this fall at the University of Pennsylvania, West Virginia University, George Mason University, Brandeis University, Lynchburg College, Hampden-Sydney College, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Butte College, and Ohio State University at Newark. This according to -- a website seeking to confederate the student groups under its banner.


“To the extent that a Republican Party and Democratic Party can have clubs on a campus, I can see no reason not to have a Tea Party on campus,” says William Kline, an assistant professor of liberal and integrative studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Kline, who is currently advising founder Daniel Oliver on a master’s degree in liberal and integrative studies with a focus on liberty studies, says Tea Party principles are not necessarily at odds with strains of political and economic thought that are taught widely in academe -- particularly the writings of Friedman, John Stuart Mill, and Adam Smith.

“It is a big-tent movement,” he says. “If there are young students who find they are interested in the ideas of what they think limited government should be, well, sure, there’s all kinds of stuff to read about that in the ivory tower.”

The important thing for ivory-tower Tea Partiers to remember, Kline says, is that Glenn Beck -- the conservative talk show host who has styled himself as the movement’s celebrity-in-chief -- didn’t invent the idea of small government. Tea Party students who profess a belief in ideas such as “liberty” and “small government” should be willing to educate themselves on the origins of those ideas and humble themselves upon the writings of their critics, Kline says.

Then again, that goes for everyone.

The Detroit News reports on a student who has won a seat in the Michigan legislature:

Diane Okay and Betty Turk were enjoying coffee after a lunch of fish and spinach pie at Ken's Country Kitchen when they found out their 23-year-old waitress is a state representative-elect.

After a moment of stunned silence, Okay expressed her approval: "Good for her."


LaFontaine, a Central Michigan University student, beat three other Republicans in the August primary before winning the 32nd District seat over Democratic incumbent Jennifer Haase in the November election.

LaFontaine will be one of the youngest legislators to be sworn into office Jan. 1. Also taking the oath will be 24-year-old Republican Frank Foster of Pellston, who won the 107th District seat vacated by term-limited Democrat Rep. Gary McDowell of Rudyard.


LaFontaine and Foster said they are troubled so many of their peers have left Michigan in search of jobs — and they said they ran for office in hopes of creating a better future for their generation of Michiganians. LaFontaine said her age will help her identify the problems facing young adults.

"I ran on my basic conservative values — being pro-life and pro-gun — and on bringing jobs back to Michigan," LaFontaine said, adding she wants to change Michigan's business tax structure. "Small businesses are job creators (and) the Michigan Business Tax is suffocating small businesses."