Politically Aware: How Old?


Nov 16, 2003
Dunedin, New Zealand
As the title says. Basically how old were you when you figured things out and started thinking about politics?

I'm not 100% sure. 87 was an election year aged 8 or 9 but I didn't know what a political party was. I thought a party was a kids birthday party.

1990 election year I remember my mother crying about the results but didn't really know much or recognize anyone beyond the prime minister.

91/92 not 100% sure but political opinions were forming still didn't recognize things like key ministers etc.

By 1993 I remember not liking the government and more or less knew the basics so I suppose age 14/15 I would count myself as politically aware.

Also got an idea about living in a bubble as locally most people swung one way the rest of the electoate swung the other way and my electorate and election came down to a recount giving the government a one seat majority. 1993 was the last FptP election so I've only voted in proportional system.

Boring stuff

I'd put my becoming politically aware in the late 70s.
Thatcher was elected 1979 when I was 14 and I remember my father (a right-wing Labour supporter then) telling me she was deliberately increasing unemployment to harm the unions. Before Thatcher I was aware of major events but had little interest in them.
I'd put my becoming politically aware in the late 70s.
Thatcher was elected 1979 when I was 14 and I remember my father (a right-wing Labour supporter then) telling me she was deliberately increasing unemployment to harm the unions. Before Thatcher I was aware of major events but had little interest in them.

Something similar to me I think.

I remember big events but didn't really understand them beyond this is bad or whatever parents said.
Yes, I vaguely remember the Miners Strike of 1972 but my main impression of it was it was exciting and fun doing things by candlelight, probably not a view the adults shared.

I remember anti nuclear movement here but it never went much beyond USA/French bad we good levels.
I'll let you know when it happens. :crazyeye:
I certainly remember all the "I like Ike" campaign efforts from 1956, but politics didn't really register until Kennedy ran in 1960.
I certainly remember all the "I like Ike" campaign efforts from 1956, but politics didn't really register until Kennedy ran in 1960.

Kids & tv...

I think the first political event I made a proper notice of rather than just seeing a headline was Aldo Moro's murder '78. Then came Carter vs Reagan where I supported Reagan purely based on the Moscow '80 boycott issue. Domestic politics were too uneventful and/or behind a curtain to intrigue a youngster.
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13 years ish of age. Mostly got into it because I was flipping through the channels while bored and found Glenn Beck to be very spastic and unhinged all to the entertainment of someone young undergoing puberty.
I was 12/13 in 2004, I think that was the first election that I really consciously followed and thought about. I particularly remember that as the period where it was becoming clear that Iraq wasn't going to be a quick in-and-out thing and I remember watching a news report about fears the US would eventually have to reinstate the draft, and seeing my dad's reaction to that was the first time I definitely remember making the connection between politics that only existed on the tv and my real life. The first time I got involved in politics was in 2008 with Proposition 8. I remember going from the high of Obama's win to the absolute gut punch of gay marriage getting constitutionally banned on the same night was a pretty formative experience for me in my last year of high school.
Depends what you mean by "figured it out". I grew up in the north of England, during the 90s. I wasn't particularly aware of it at the start, but that involved the Tories under John Major ceding to (New) Labour under Blair. My parents were in London for a good amount of the end of the Tories' years in power, working horsehockey jobs to make ends meet. Their experience of things like the poll tax riots shaped their politics at the time, and therefore mine as a kid (even before we touch on how well received Thatcher was in the north, generally).

So I always had an idea of things, but it was heavily biased to England (not even the UK as a whole) and rather local in a sense. Was in a pretty rough neighbourhood and that didn't change until I almost left for university. But it took until about then to get an appreciation for the greater political playing field and the injustices in society that drove me to become politically-aware. So I'd say late teens into my early twenties. And here I am, more than a decade after that, still figuring things out. Some formative experiences along the way, but that doesn't change the fact I definitely haven't got it figured out.
Hard to draw a line in a gradient. I was raised by lawyer-politician-activists so I had a head start.

As a 5 year old I remember thinking
a) it was BULLSH that there was a president, especially one not everyone agreed upon, but
b) local police were a great idea
c) it was good we had the biggest army

Started reading some news and talking to my parents about politics and economics in elementary school, got a little into history (but this took off in middle school).

by 12 I was reading the business section of my paper, which really woke me up. I was already political as a child, but watching a boom into a bust and how that affected everyone personally was extremely informative

at 14 I was one of the 10% who did not support Bush after 9/11 because I knew they were authoritarian oligarchs looking to power grab. Molly Ivans warned me of these guys and the theft of the 2000 election was clear as day. Against both the Afghanistan and especially Iraq War because I did my homework and read the inside of the papers. I was 100% on the progressive vanguard with the rhetoric of a partisan.

At 15 I was reading McPhearson's Battle Cry of Freedom about the Civil War and had a revelation to the deep extent from 1-1 interactions all the way to the heights of civilization everything was completely made up, no matter how real and material. Very empowering, we are the leaders of our lives, for ourselves and for others.

Later at 15 I was on CFC so I was definitely already very political by this point to want to participate here. And you all (and the early posters) leveled me up super fast and well. Thank you CFC!

At 16 my family voted in accordance to my articulated positions, they understood I was doing the work to know what was what. Too immature to realize John Edwards lacked personal integrity but deeply aware his superiority on the issues. Too immature to look past Howard Dean's blowhardery to know he was the guy.

But it was at 17 I had my most important political revelation. I was reading some guy's opinion in some NYTimes article, and juxtaposed two thoughts:
1) this guy is smart
2) this guy agrees with me
Which struck me as extremely foolish to combine those two as a singular thought. This was when I started thinking about everything more sharply, critically, and freely.

Hon mention to a deep historical and economic education later, or when I did a deep dive into understanding conservatism some years ago.

So yeah, can't draw a line in the gradient but I've been following politics for over 25 years, since I could read, and no fewer than 18 years ago with a grownup mind.
didn't start thinking about politics much until mid-late 20s (personal age, not year lol).

i think this helped me substantially, in that i had basic knowledge before getting into emotional topic debates. also could extend the trustworthiness of randos trolling online to online political information given (aka not very), and keep that in perspective.

i was a little surprised to find out that msm was not significantly more trustworthy than randos (and in many cases less, given incentives), but less and less as i thought about said incentives.

a lot of my emphasis on individual liberty comes from seeing how management policies in firms work out for people in practice. unfortunately, i also quickly found that a preference for individual liberty does not align to any us political party. also long discouraged by people who enjoy and claim to uphold said liberties turn around and advocate/vote for policy that infringes on it. also discouraged by what history suggests will happen (again), when going that route, and that it basically always happens.

but hey, i was born in an affluent country and have nevertheless enjoyed more liberty than most people in history. i would prefer if people after me had more rather than less and will at least advocate/vote for policy to *try* to get us there. but all in all, can't complain too much when compared to historical alternatives.
Aware, I suppose the Persian Gulf War was probably the first memory I have of anything really political. I knew there was a war, and there was President Bush. That was about it. I also remember when I was in elementary school I was corralled by my teacher to join a protest march to protect a “historic” building, and even at that time I felt like this was something wrong, because I didn’t have an opinion on some old crappy building that they were going to tear down, and if public money was going to be spent on its repair, why am I being used as an emotional pawn?

In terms of having opinions, that came later when I was in junior high school. By high school, I was already highly opinionated (an annoying teenager? Say what?) and the rest is history.

I’ve cooled off on a lot of stuff since I hit my thirties.
The Iraq War started when I was fourteen, which I think is a pretty common for people of my age cohort to have realised current events were something you could hold opinions on, rather than just something happening vaguely in the background. "Held" is probably the key word, though; I don't think teenagers have the context or judgement to really form opinions, and I certainly didn't at that age, so you tend to just find some set of public figures whose opinions seem to make sense and repeat them. I think people start forming their own opinions in their mid-to-late twenties, when they're in a position to start weighing ideas against their own life experience.
Growing up in the 80s in Ireland there was politics everywhere, I have general recollections of being annoyed when kids TV was cancelled to show political conferences (there were only two channels, the main three parties got their conferences televised), first elections I remember was when I was 12 and a coalition came into power.
Was aware of other stuff before that like the fall of the Berlin Wall when I was 9, and the violence in Northern Ireland.
I think my earliest awareness of politics as something people talked about was when I was about 5 or 6. I remember the October Crisis scaring me, as I had only a hazy idea of just how many thousands of miles' distance there is between Alberta and Quebec. I just knew that it was on the news, it was unusual, and people were angry and afraid. Nobody in my family ever told me I wasn't allowed to watch the news, but thankfully someone finally explained that we were in no danger here.

We were introduced to municipal politics in Grade 4 social studies, so that would put me at age 8. Provincial politics came 3 years later, in Grade 7 social studies (it was an election year), and the following two years in social studies were taken up by a unit on apartheid, a real-time study of the Dickson Dam controversy (our class went to the public hearings for that, hosted by the Environment Conservation Authority - back when government actually cared what ordinary people thought), and the election of the PQ in Quebec. This brings me to age 13-14.

During this time period I was still interested in municipal politics, as we'd moved into the city and I realized that yes, it really does matter who the mayor is and who is on City Council. My grandparents never shied away from discussing federal politics in front of me, and my grandfather sometimes asked my opinion.

And so on. I've mentioned before about being intrigued from a very young age by this mysterious thing my grandparents did called Voting. Back then they voted for county candidates as we lived out of town. The polling station was in one of those little one-room schools that used to be a staple of Prairie life, but you never see anymore.

Kids were absolutely not allowed into these places. Even now, the rules state that only registered voters, poll workers, and scrutineers are allowed into polling stations, but hardly anyone enforces that (they should; it's one thing to take your purse-sized dog or baby with you, but not your school-age kids who can read and could see and maybe reveal who you voted for). I was left outside in the van, wondering what was happening in there, why was it taking so long, when would my grandparents come back...

Anyway, between all the stuff I learned in school, discussions with the family, attending public forums well before I was old enough to vote (my grandmother told me one municipal election that she didn't feel like going, so I should just go and write down a list of people I thought she should vote for), etc., turning 18 for me held no thoughts whatsoever of being old enough to legally drink.

To this day I have never had a drink that wasn't of the spiked-punch-at-the-convention type (and stopped as soon as I realized it was spiked).

Turning 18 meant a whole different thing. On that morning, my grandmother woke me up and said, "Happy Birthday, now you can vote!"
The first political event I really remember was the Bush/Dukakis election but I didn’t really know anything about them and I wasn’t old enough to have my own political opinions beyond my parents.

I was in high school when the Monica Lewinsky thing was going on and you just couldn’t escape from it being all people talked about for what felt like a year or more. I remember the whole OJ thing being similar even thought it wasn’t politics.

I’ve never been very into politics like following it closely because I just find it really tiresome except I follow Iraqi politics closely for my job. I find that tiresome too because you just constantly have to follow it to be up to date in the Media to the point where I’m either always looking at Twitter or I’m behind and I just wants to take a break.
Well my story is a lot more stupid than everyone else here

It probably all comes from a number of things, like one thing is I remember writing a short thing for school "why not just print more money" and then getting to hear about inflation and that it's in a sense a game

But I think the biggest thing was listening to horsehockyheads on youtube. I think it was around 14, but maybe 15. So I got boring american lib views from that. Stupid to not pay attention to the country I live in instead.
Anyway around 16 I think I changed a lot of those opinions. I think cfc was a big part of that lol. Since then I've not really changed opinions too much I don't think. I feel I've mainly gotten stupider.
Also I joined cfc when I was 17. 10 years ago almost

When I was 18 I voted for the first time and got no representation lol, and then the parties in charge changed from bad to worse and I've not really had it in me to follow politics. So like my views or whatever is broad "ideology", but I think it's mostly a hodgepodge of half baked ideas
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