Karen Olsson

Karen Olsson is a reporter for U.S. News and World Report.

Recent Articles

Keeping it Real Simple

Looking at who doesn't vote in America can be a kind of Rorschach test for political commentators. Confronted with the dark splotch of the politically disengaged, they discern all kinds of shapes--here a complacent consumer, there an alienated cynic, and over there a volunteer who values public service over voting. As more people avoid the polls, it perhaps becomes easier to characterize the people who do follow politics. In my experience, they tend to care for an actual reason, or multiple reasons: They grew up in a household of lively debaters, or a certain presidential administration pissed them off, or they became concerned about the environment or about taxes, or they had a socialist boyfriend in college. Self-interest may grease the wheels of American politics, but I know of few people who got involved in politics just because somebody else told them it was generally in their own self-interest to get involved. (George W. Bush is an exception that...