Things Ain’t What They Used to Be
The ranks of virgin voters, who for sixty years marched into public democracy, stopped turning out around 1900. Voter turnout fell 6 percent from 1896 to 1900, then 8 percent from 1900 to 1904, and it kept plummeting after that. First-time voter turnout fell by more than 50 percent between 1888 and 1924. Young Americans and political parties were no longer useful to each other, and the fire of popular politics began to dim when the respectable classes took interest. The more reformers talked about young people’s responsibilities as citizens, the less young people seemed to care.
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