Alum Michael Mills’ first book, “Battling Democracy’s Decline” was published last November. Recently, Mills was a guest on the radio show, “Game On! with Ross and McGlaughlin” to discuss his book and the decline of civic participation on which it focuses.
Mills worked on election issues at the Secretary of State of Georgia; did a graduate thesis on improving youth voter turnout and then worked in a range of public affairs settings, tackling issues from health care to global warming, before becoming regional director of public affairs for Wal-Mart across the southeast.
Throughout those experiences, he explains, he became convinced that people want to participate and want to be involved in the process, but they often don’t know how to do so. The reasons for this, he calls the “Civic triaxiom: There are institutional access barriers, individual barriers… or just a lack of civic education from an early age that tells them there is that requirement of civic involvement and how to get involved. So, seeing firsthand the many examples of people taking action or frustrated about action really helped me get involved and write this book.”
In the moments leading up to when Mills joined the show, the hosts were talking about a number of current Congressional races that were unresolved long after the election. They later asked Mills his opinion on why so many races linger on nowadays. He explained, “The problem with civic participation today is people see voting as their job is done. People vote and go about their merry way and then the politicians get involved.” Ultimately, he explains it’s left to the politicians to decide who gets the spoils.
While he gives low voter participation as a more obvious example of democracy’s decline, he says “We are seeing declines in civic participation in all the categories around us.” The realization of the importance of being involved, he says, “will bring about a reactivation of the American people.”
Mills graduated from Hobart College in 1996 with a B.A. in political science. He was a member of the Hobart student court and the ice hockey team.
The full interview on “Game on!” can be heard online.