I don’t think supporting a third party is a cop-out. I think a lot of us care just as much, even though our chances at affecting policy aren’t as good as the current incumbent parties. I'd say a big part of the cynicism comes from people who are fighting these wars/ loved one's affected by those people in the wars. I have a friend in almost every branch of the military, one is currently in Afghanistan & another would be if not for medical reasons. I think a big percentage of the youth see's these as unjust wars, & that certainly doesn't help. I think a big portion of the youth recognizes that 1/2 the prison population is in there for non-violent drug related offenses, & that most of that is young people, & those young people have family and friends who are also affected. I think young people today have access to information in the way that kids even 10, to 20 years ago could never have. Many of them know about things like the NDAA & the unjust droning of civilians. I think people have heard about the Wiki-leaks business, have seen the helicopter footage of soldiers slaughtering civilians. Income disparity is higher than it's ever been. Popular movies like “The Campaign” are satirizing the political election process by pointing out how you can pretty much buy an election. You have the fact that corporations are sort of hedging their bets & funding both candidates so no matter the outcome both candidates can be a captive to their interest's. You have things like lobbying which is out of control. The Federal Reserve has it’s issues. There was that whole Occupy Wallstreet thing over the bailouts. You have the electoral college which is disenfranchising a lot of perspective voters because of the state they live in. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
So when a guy like Ron Paul or Gary Johnson comes along and says, let’s end these wars, let’s stop the drug war, let’s not detain American citizens & therefore avoid a break-down in the fabric of one of our must fundamental rights of our constitution (due-process), who isn’t held captive to corporate interests, who seems like they have a soul, etc and so forth, I think a lot of people gravitate towards that. I guess people rank candidates on priorities, ending the foreign wars, ending the drug wars, protecting due-process, protecting civil liberties, are all more important to me than whether there’s going to be a slight tax increase/decrease. I don’t agree with everything Ron Paul or Gary Johnson want to do, but if they do the aforementioned I think I can live with whatever else that comes with.
On a sidenote, I just watched Obama on the Daily Show. I thought he did well.