AR-News: (US-az) A nation of bystanders: By most measures,
Americans are participating less and less in civic life
animalconcerns at fastmail.us
Sat Jun 5 13:57:38 EDT 2004
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(06-05) 10:09 PDT (AP) --
EDITOR'S NOTE -- There is a growing unease that something is amiss with
America's political institutions. You can see it in low voter turnout,
hear it on talk radio. As part of our election year coverage, The
Associated Press is producing a half-dozen stories examining aspects of
our political malaise. This `How We Choose' story focuses on declining
participation in most forms of civic life.
By PAULINE ARRILLAGA
AP National Writer
PHOENIX (AP) -- They used to gather in a cavernous hotel ballroom, tables
packed with bankers and shopkeepers rubbing elbows with politicians.
Those were the days when downtown Phoenix was booming, and the Downtown
Lions Club boomed right along with it.
When ordinary citizens are not engaged in civic life, a democratic
society becomes unbalanced. The minority that speaks out is heard; the
majority that doesn't is ignored. For example, older Americans tend to be
more outspoken than younger Americans.
And then there's Heather Herman. At 15, the Denver high school freshman
is making her first foray into civic life by pushing a measure that would
ban wild animals in city shows such as circuses or carnivals.
Working with her parents, friends and animal rights activists, Heather
spent last summer going door-to-door and staking out supermarkets to
collect more than 6,000 signatures to get the proposal on Denver's Aug.
"I was like: `I'm so young, could this really make a difference?"' she
Her answer: "If you believe in it you have the power to do it."
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