Problems with political ignorance

Have politicians capitalized on the low political participation of young adults?


Graphic by Lena Yang
Graphic by Lena Yang

Political apathy and disinterest seems to be a theme common among young adults around the world. Is it politicians’ lack of importance towards the needs of young adults that has caused this predicament? Or have politicians capitalized on the low political participation of young adults? Probably both.

Picture this hypothetical situation: It’s election day; your mom, dad and grandparents all go to vote. They ask you if you are coming to the polling station but you choose to not join them.

You explain to them that politics are useless, does not appeal to your interest and you would rather stay at home to catch up on what the Kardashians have been up to this week.

What you don’t know is that you have silently approved of politicians who will continue to appeal only to people from generations before you. You, by default, have perpetuated the vicious cycle.

A popular perspective echoed by many university students is that politics has nothing to offer them or that no party represents their interests, therefore making voting appear redundant.

They are wrong. At least one party’s platform talks about increasing student loans, bursaries and government funding for fellowships. Protecting the environment means a lot to many of us yet many are not aware of the Green Party’s existence. Are you sick and tired of GRT letting you down? There are parties who would like to address spending on transportation. It’s not a matter of political disinterest or distrust, it’s simply political ignorance.

We are a generation where the majority of us rely on Facebook and BuzzFeed for our political knowledge and general news. We are a breed who arguably are more interested in debating how Kanye West will do as a presidential candidate in 2020 than which Canadian party should be brought in on October 19.

As the Canadian federal election comes closer, more of us are drawn to Donald Trump’s hair than the platform of any of the political leaders in Canada. More often than not, our focus towards real politics is trumped by celebrity-like attention seekers.

No wonder politicians do as they please; they know we will be preoccupied with any and everything else.

Political leaders may at times veer beyond the narrative of young adults. If most of us do not cast a vote for them, how do we expect to have their support? But we have enough time ahead in our lives to claim back our influence.

Indeed, statistics have shown that in the 2011 Canadian election only 38.8 per cent of voters aged 18-24 actually voted, in stark contrast to 71.5 per cent of those aged 55-64. The future of this nation is being directed by less than half of it.

We need to change our attitudes. Politics are not something you choose to be a part of. Security, the economy and the environment are dictated by political actions, which will ultimately be in the hands of this generation in less than a decade. Change will not be swift.

Nonetheless, we need to start somewhere. Or chances are we may find ourselves cast into political oblivion now and later in life. Why?

Because we chose the Kardashians.

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