Getting younger Americans to vote

Your editorial about the lack of interest by young people in our system of government and the American political process is alarming but not surprising ("Tomorrow's Civic Leaders," Nov. 30). The 18 to 25 age group probably has trouble relating to the older men in Congress who win reelection most of time because of their enormous advantages in terms of campaign financing, name recognition, and party support. With so few female and minority-role models in the US House and Senate, younger adults can't see much diversity in our democracy.

The lower voting percentage of the 18 to 25 year olds is at least partially the result of the millions of college students living away from home, the significant increase of young men in the state and federal prison systems, and the fact that more than 60 percent of young mothers with children under 6 are now working outside the home with little time to get to the polls.

If we really want to get young people involved, we should make it easier for them to vote and encourage them to run for entry-level political offices. If politics remains the province of the few, the public's interest will continue to decline.

George A. Dean Southport, Conn.

Conflicting views of the future?

While I highly value the objectivity of the Monitor, I'd like to note an inconsistency in your outlook.

Two recent front-page articles show different attitudes toward the future. In "21st century will finally meet George Jetson," (Nov. 29), the attitude is one of uncritical optimism. The article praises new developments in science while ignoring the potential harm new technology can bring, the hidden costs of improvement, and the fact that newfangled appliances alone cannot bring one peace and happiness.

On the other hand, in "Altered state of American family" (Dec. 3), the attitude is one of inappropriate pessimism. The article condemns changing values in regard to sexuality and gender roles while ignoring the potential of alternatives to marriage - such as same-sex unions, multi-mate households, and secondary and tertiary partnerships - to truly stabilize the family and benefit children.

In this manner, one article boldly ushers in the future but fails to lament changing conditions, while the other article laments changing conditions but fails to boldly usher in the future.

Paul S. Christensen Champaign, Ill.

Yellowstone's noisy winters

Thanks for the important article "Yellowstone weighs snowmobiles versus serenity," (Dec. 6) on the effect of snowmobiles on the serenity and the wildlife of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and Montana. I know firsthand what the snowmobiles are doing to the environment of this great national park, as I was on a 1999 winter tour with the National Parks and Conservation Association. A small group of us went to see the wildlife, especially the gray wolves, bison, elk, and other animals and birds that live in Yellowstone. The noise of snowmobiles was bad enough, but the smell of exhaust was terrible as we rode along in snowcoaches on the unplowed roads and met hundreds of those machines.

I have owned a snowmobile for 30 years. But I do not consider it necessary to have them proliferate in our national parks to the extent that is allowed today. The firms that manufacture snowmobiles need to do much research on reducing noise and pollution, and the parks need to limit the number of machines allowed in them.

Francis W. Warren Jr. Stow, Mass.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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