Today I want to talk about voting, or specifically the lack of it, by one of this country’s most overlooked, poorest, unrepresented, drowning in debt, under-employed, stressed-out, and worst of all, the most apathetic demographic in the entire country: young people.
I personally never had any problem becoming interested in politics. The political bug bit me when I was about 13, and I spent my teenaged years following politics religiously and agonizing over the fact that I was not allowed to vote yet. Now I work for a newspaper and when the election was called it might as well have been Christmas morning.
Mine is certainly not the common experience for people my generation, or for most sane people of any generation, really. But the degree to which my generation refuses engage in the political sphere is staggering. One of the most common things we hear is that “voting just isn’t my thing,” as though democracy is a hobby that you’re either into or you aren’t.
Some members of older generations say this lack of interest is because we are all self-absorbed, entitled, lazy little jerks. The only response to that is this: democratic politics in a very fundamental way runs on the principle of “what’s in it for me?” If we really were the entitled little brats that people say we are, then we would already be one of this country’s strongest voting blocs.
The real problem is that there isn’t anything in it for us. Political parties make only the most token of efforts to try to get young people to vote for them. What they do promise is almost always only about education – a good start, mind you – and despite this, it’s still marketed to our parents. When the Liberals talk about their “Family Pack” it doesn’t resonate with those of us who have no interest in starting families any time soon.
The degree to which we’re ignored is astounding.Federal politicians make a more visible effort chasing after the Jewish vote, despite the fact that Jews make up only slightly more than one per cent of Canada’s population while people under 25 years old make up nearly 10 per cent. The difference being, middle-class Jewish families actually vote.
That’s the real problem, because we don’t vote politicians don’t try to engage us, and because they don’t engage us, we don’t vote. It’s a vicious little cycle. So here’s my advice to people my age: break the cycle, GO VOTE.
Do you want to know why tuition is so expensive? Because young people don’t vote.
Why no serious candidate talks about legalizing marijuana? Because young people don’t vote.
Why young men pay ridiculously unfair prices for car insurance? Because young men don’t vote.
Do you care about gay rights? Then go vote.
Do you care about the environment? Then go vote.
Can’t find any jobs that will hire young people? Then go vote.
Are your taxes too high while people with kids seem to get all the tax breaks? Then go vote.
I don’t care if you don’t know who to vote for, it doesn’t matter, go in and spoil your ballot for all I care (or ideally, go check out our voting guide). What’s important is that your name and age show up on the list of who voted. Once the political powers-that-be see that people our age do vote, I guarantee that next election college campuses will be as popular as a nursing home.
Seriously, do us all a favour. On May 2nd, get off your ass and go vote. Do it.