Are Americans Disengaging or Just Finding Others Ways to Engage?

| Fri Dec. 1, 2006 7:10 PM EST

Our Washington Bureau points out that American voices of dissent appear to be waning, which sadly to say was quite evident at a San Francisco anti-war rally I covered back in October for the Center for American Progress' Campusprogress.org. There was a sad showing of maybe 1000 people which paled in comparison to the large swarms of people that took to the streets here in SF leading up to the U.S. invasion in March of 2003. There were many grumblings as to why the turn out was so low: many thought ANSWER, the anti-war group who organizes rallies, has alienated large groups of Americans due to their anti-Israel position (in fact UFPJ, another anti-war group who organizes protests now officially refuses to organize with them on a national level); some felt that people would wait to cast their vote against Iraq (which it does appear they did to some extent); and some were angered by thoughts that perhaps the American people are just plain disengaged. Although the decrease in participation at protests does send a strong message, maybe Americans have found other outlets- like blogging and voting (there was a nearly 5% increase from 2002 in people under 30 who voted this year). And although Iraq was not the only issue Americans had on their minds when they headed to the ballots this year, it was a seminal one. Only time will tell if engaged Americans once again will take to the streets en masse, as sectarian violence in Iraq increases even more and decisions by the administration as to how to proceed in Iraq are made.