Political culture to blame

Resident concerned politicians are a poor example for youth

Wayne Bennett’s letter (April 14, Referendum Results) poses an interesting question: How is it possible that only 18 per cent of the voters turn out for an important referendum?

The reason is quite simple. Most of the voters who do not vote are in the demographic of voters 18 to 30 years of age.

The reason they do not participate in the democratic process is because they believe that change through voting is a waste of time.

Although I have never missed an election, I too have become cynical and jaded by the process.

Fairly recently, I took a number of B.C. leadership students to the opening session of Parliament in Ottawa.

They sat in the gallery, slack-jawed as their elected representatives interrupted, name-called, booed and taunted the various speakers trying to raise their issues or make their points.

They observed the glow from countless Blackberries and iPhones as MPs rudely texted and e-mailed.

The students vigorously reminded me that in my classroom I would have relieved those people of their communication devices.

Students in my history and social studies classes have commented on how they have difficulty relating to politicians who are over 55, white and male.

In short, that is 90 per cent of the elected representatives in all three levels of government.

One astute student suggested that, “Those dinosaurs don’t speak to Canadian youth, they speak down to us.”

Another reason voting is down is because of the dearth of attack ads we are inundated by.

Students have asked me what the difference is between cyber-bullying and the ads which demean and debase other politicians?

Good question.

Young people are frustrated, put off and uninterested in voting for people who do not take the time or care to address them in meaningful dialogue.

This group represents roughly 25 per cent of the voting public and the savvy politicians who figure this out will ride an energetic wave of youthful support. As in the Jurassic period, maybe the dinosaurs will just go away.

 

Brent Applegath

Vernon