The Canadian national election is set for October 19 and we believe that everyone, especially youth voters, should engage themselves in the political process.
The percentage of youth voter turnout in Canada has decreased steeply since 1993, according to a Library of Parliament research publications document, from about 75 per cent and dropping.
Voter turnout has been generally depressed, with an historic low of under 59 per cent of voters casting ballots in 2008, according to the document.
Youth voters may have the perception that the issues in this election do not concern them, if social media traffic and anecdotal evidence are any sign. Questions about Bill C-51, Canada’s stance on ISIS and taxation do not seem to resonate with Canada’s young people.
This is a problem. The present generation just doesn’t pay enough attention to politics or realize how serious these issues are.
It is unfair to those who care when a prevailing theme amongst youth is that politics aren’t cool anymore. Apathy has become a fashion statement and people are wearing it like it’s never going out of style.
We want the young generation to care about the future of the world and more specifically the future of Canada. A Globe and Mail headline from a couple of years ago, “Generation Nixed: Why Canada’s youth are losing hope for the future”, pointed to the lack of engagement that has to be overcome. It is a sad reflection of Canada’s political, social and cultural environment that many younger people should feel powerless.
Where did this apathy come from?
The youth have grown up in a world that in many ways wants to shoot down innovation and progressivism. We can point to the post 9/11 era where security has become more important than freedom. We can also see Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s attempts to push Canada down a road of economic liberalism rather than social liberalism, namely freedom of the market over freedom of society. We live in a digital world where satisfaction is often instantaneous and maybe because of this we have become numb to the effort required to reap long term rewards.
If we are just self-obsessed, why don’t we love ourselves enough to fight for our future on the political stage?
The youth voter demographic is often ignored and manipulated. This manipulation is evident in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s attempts to sway youth voters with a keen blend of economic liberalism and Netflix. Should we blame ourselves for this because of our apathetic minds? Or should we blame a political culture that has realized the youth are impressionable, spontaneous and emotional voters?
We would love to see youth assemble around people who have the knowledge to educate others about politics, whoever they may be. The youth are maybe not used to giving this kind of value to political passion.
We have learned that politics is often corrupt and full of deception, as the ongoing senate scandal has again made evident. This has maybe made the youth reluctant to commit to a leader. Do the promises hang stale in the air and fall upon deaf ears?
Maybe what young people want is political introduction that comes in an easily digestible form, such as viral advertising. However, in the past things like this have been misguided and we did not see enough productive action in result. The American Kony 2012 campaign where young people were misguided into following a cause that did not produce results comes to mind.
Politicians for the most part don’t yet know how to use platforms like Facebook and Twitter in a way that organizes conviction and motivates impression. Looking at the profiles of some of the top political figures the youth may feel disconnected or think these people are behaving robotically. Look at one of Prime Minister Harper’s most recent tweets “Proud to be in Windsor today to announce our Conservative Party’s plan to protect Canadian manufacturing jobs.”
Politics is not just a game. It is an important societal practice that guides a country, or province, or city to success or to failure. Canada’s young adults need to abandon their fears of being misled and trust their own abilities to understand political realities that will most definitely affect their future lives personally.