Voting is the new Acai bowl. Or the new going to Coachella. Then why aren’t you registered yet?
Why aren’t young people voting?
It’s the multimillion dollar question. Why are young people more engaged than ever in the political conversation, yet they fail to walk down to cast their votes on election day?
Just in Australia, there are almost a million of people who are not registered to vote. A million people who would rather do something else with their time than walking down to elect somebody who is in charge of their future.
Old politicians call us irresponsible and selfish for not using our voting rights, and they may be right in a way, but today we are really going to get to the bottom of this because if a million of people are not voting is because the message is obviously not reaching people, it can’t just be laziness.
YOU DON’T VOTE BECAUSE..
1. YOU DON’T THINK IT WILL MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE.
I feel you, pal. Democracies have been established for centuries, yet we are far from living the real concept of a democratic society. Minorities and discrimination are still living underground of unfair distribution of wealth, corruption and government failure at keeping its citizens healthy and happy.
I get it why you would rather watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones than following the presidential debate.
Because it’s boring hearing a bunch of white old people pulling their hair on public policies, when you have the suspicion that in the end it’s actually not going to make a difference anyway.
I get the frustration and I get the lack of trust, but I am sad to tell you that that perspective is hurting you more than you think.
When you say that your vote doesn’t make a difference, you are immediately implying that YOUR VOTE as a YOUNG PERSON doesn’t make a difference in changing things.
Not to mention if you are a woman. With an opinion? Do you really want to go there?
Or maybe you heard the ‘things don’t change with voting, silly’ flying over the dinner table, and it remained stuck in your head like an old sticky gum.
Either way, when you believe that voting doesn’t matter is because you don’t feel like your voice is loud enough to have a saying in what happens in the society you live in.
And you’re absolutely right.
Most governments have been putting zero effort in making you feel like you belong to this society, by slashing university funds, splurging millions into tax heavens and fields that you may never even be able to be part of, instead of putting them in education or renewable energies. Things that could help you, right?
So they didn’t. And that pisses you off.
Does this mean that government hates young people?
Let’s be clear on this. The government isn’t a person, or a separate entity. So the government is not able to love, or hate anybody. It acts as an institution that should be working for all citizens’ best interests in an equal and fair way, but it’s mostly working for a fraction of society’s interest.
This isn’t just because that fraction has millions of funds that can bless political campaigns and legislations (or is it?), but also because they act on behalf of those who were interested enough to walk to vote on that day and choose the person who most represent them.
Now, the reason why political parties have shown a lot less interest in young people’s future is because 1 in 5 people doesn’t vote and as long as they don’t vote, they can get away with half-arsing federal spending plans that benefit exclusively people like them. Old, white and rich.
It’s not that you don’t matter. It’s not that you don’t care. It’s not as personal as you think. Yes, politicians who ignore young people’s needs might not care as a person, but when they know that nobody is going to turn up to protest against their decision, or change the outcome of an election, they simply get away with implementing legislations and policies that don’t really safeguard other people’s interests other than theirs.
So no, the government doesn’t hate you, but they are definitely not interested in you as much as you are not interested in them
Now you’re probably going to jump on my throat and accuse me of defending a government that doesn’t care about its young citizens, but if we really want to have a serious conversation about it without blaming one another is that the truth is that we have to stop thinking that just because our society seems like a democracy, it doesn’t meant that it acts like a democracy.
The government should definitely represent its people and safeguard for those who are not able to vote, but unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world where the good guys win and the bad guys stop eating raw onions on television. (Yes, I am looking at you, Abbott.)
So we have to act. We have to vote. There’s no other way to change things other than voting, because they are beating you at your own game.
And about that thought of not mattering as a voice in this society. You do. Even if it’s not a perfect depiction of a democracy, societies have come a long way to fight for equality and opportunities. Your voice does matter, because your voice can touch others and influence other people since we pretty much live on the internet, but other than these warm and fuzzy stuff – as a young person in Australia, you have changed the outcome of the elections. As a young person, you also brought a candidate like Bernie Sanders to be even considered to become president of United States.
That’s having a voice. That’s having an impact.
Look at the last protests demanding for change and action on important issues like climate change, marriage equality and police brutality. You will find many young people behind these movements.
We are the life and blood of change; if only we start using this potential we hold.
So you can make a difference but you have to get your ass to get registered to vote and actually vote, otherwise you’re right. It won’t make any difference.
2. YOU DON’T VOTE BECAUSE YOU DON’T CARE
‘Young people nowadays only care about their Instagram followers and getting rich from making videos. They have no idea what real hard work is’
Do you agree with this? Doesn’t your blood boil when you hear this rubbish coming out of people’s mouths?
I know that we may muck around with useless stuff sometimes, but don’t we all? Don’t we all as humans waste time with meaningless stuff? Old people say racist stuff on public transport, politicians stash tax-free money in Caribbean islands.
Everyone has their vice, right?
That doesn’t mean that we are not interested in our future. It doesn’t mean that we are not interested in achieving the goals we had set in life.
Then why do you say that you don’t care?
I have met and talked to many young people who despised politics and who had zero interest in using their votes, and I found out that the reasons behind their disinterest went way deeper than a simple ‘I don’t give a damn’. Exactly how some people eat unhealthier than others, the same motives of not caring comes from a similar emotional place.
Yeah, you might think that politics is boring and that you don’t care, but like Anne Hathaway choosing the cerulean jumper in The Devil Wears Prada, your rebellious ‘not caring’ is less punk rock and cool than you actually think.
There are many reasons why you don’t care about politics. The most common ones could be that your family has never shown any interest in politics; your friends don’t think it’s cool to talk about it; but the real main reasons behind the disinterest are two: 1) you never felt the need to care about politics; 2) you don’t understand politics.
These two common reasons are hard to swallow because nobody likes to admit that they had a sweet life, nor they like to admit that they don’t know much about something.
Or am I wrong?
Now let’s see how we can fix you.
1. YOU DON’T CARE BECAUSE YOU NEVER HAD TO CARE.
Congratulations! You were one of the lucky ones to win the genetic lottery. You were blessed with a functioning body, a skin that allows you to not be racially profiled, and your lifestyle and personal identity failed the minority test. You probably didn’t really have to worry about money, as mommy and daddy were lucky with those properties inherited by your grannies; and who needs university when you have a sweet warm spot in the family business.
You might be thinking that poor people, or anyone who isn’t in the same situation as you should just ‘work harder’, but really the only way for them to be in the same position as you it’s probably to have been born in your family and not in theirs.
I know that it’s uncomfortable to feel attacked because of something that you can’t control. But imagine how uncomfortable it feels to not have the same opportunities as others just because you were born in a different situation.
Look, privilege is a real thing. You might think it’s some progressive social justice word that anyone who has a Tumblr account likes to throw around, but the truth is it’s real as climate change.
So now that you got that you were blessed and luck, you actually only have two options here:
1) You accept your luck as a privilege, but decide give back and actually be part of this society and vote for somebody who can make it easier for people as not as lucky as you.
2) You keep living in your blessed land and continue not to care about others. Alright, at least don’t vote so you’re not making things worse.
Alright, you are past that uncomfortable feeling of being the lucky star. Put that energy into a good use and spread the luck around. The world is full of people who need that.
The other option is..
2. YOU DON’T VOTE BECAUSE YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND POLITICS.
I have never met a single person who truly understood politics. Like I never really met anyone who fully understands finance and women. The thing is, politics isn’t a subject that is meant to be understood. Exactly like you’re not meant to get what your girlfriend really wants to do on a date.
You are not meant to know exactly what this politicians is saying and translate legislation lingo to normal thinking.
If we lived in a fully democratic and transparent society, we shouldn’t have to feel like we need to understand politics to vote, because the media and politicians should have a consistent and clear message that can be easily understood by anyone, so that at the end of political campaigns, everyone is fully conscious of their political decisions.
Unfortunately that doesn’t happen. It’s no wonder why people are not tuning in with their prime ministers! Have you listened to them talking lately? It’s like they are speaking the Game of Thrones language for what we know. Boring talk, foreign economics lingo and you are constantly left with the lingering feeling of being manipulated and talked to like a toddler.
The fact that you don’t understand what happens in your own country is merely your fault, but it’s the sign of a serious problem with how a nation communicates with its citizens.
How are you meant to take responsibility with your life when you don’t even understand what it’s going on?
It’s overwhelming to tackle politics at a young age, because we want to think with our heads and form our opinions without old-fashioned older generations yelling in our ears, or feeling like we are some naive hippie young people for not having a real job. How do you even translate politics when you can barely understand the difference between left-wing and right-wing, when both sides seem to be talking only for themselves?
Well, that’s another multimillion dollar question. Since voting is the only way to change a democracy, you would think that governments would make it easier for you to understand how to vote and who to vote for.
Nah. See, the less you understand, the better it is for them, because if they are not acting in your interest, then that means that as long as you keep thinking that your vote doesn’t count and you feel intimidated by voting, that means that they keep running the country for a longer time. We already said that, remember?
It’s pretty annoying being treated like a toddler, right?
Now, I don’t know about you but I don’t like to be fooled around. Nobody likes to be the laughing joke of the village, right?
Then now that you understand that your ignorance is an advantage for political parties who cut young generations out of their spending plans, you can understand how valuable your vote is in changing the world.
Now it makes sense why politicians spend more money in advertising campaigns and effective public relations techniques than actually delivering what they promise before elections.
Because really, politics is just a nasty popularity contests. It’s a lying game and the one who convinces the most wins, with the serious downside that the one who wins is also in charge of picking people that may not be qualified to run a country, but they will anyway.
I am not here to convince you to like politics, or to understand it, because that would be impossible. It’s not a nice side of our society, it’s actually quite depressing to think that we have had to come to the point of having to choose the less bad guy.
But unlike finance and globalisation, politics still has a big space for us young people to squeeze ourselves in and turn things around.
And yes, that is just with your vote. Your vote counts, but above all, the ideas that come with your vote counts.
The reason why most advertising companies and political parties are sweating their tits off to engage young people in political conversations is because they know how much influence young people have across all social media channels.
Think about the detox tea trend on Instagram. Girls from different backgrounds and stories have turned around the rules of traditional advertising by getting paid to promote product that could reach a following basethat was built by them overtime with styling fashion, good pictures and, of course, great looks.
Young people are earning money simply making 5-minute videos on YouTube, or by Snapchatting their lives, or tweeting about products to millions of people. The rules of traditional media have changed, and if your parents still can’t get their head around Facebook, it doesn’t mean that the head of states don’t either.
They tell us that we are disengaged more than ever and they assume that we won’t be showing up to vote for people who could actually make a difference, but they are missing a big point here.
Young people’s interests are growing exponentially. One day they are into vegan food blogs, the next minute it’s travelling the world. We endorse and support brands with our peers and like other people’s stuff because we like to support them (and be supported in return). For companies, young people’s engagement in social media is a mine gold.
Of course, it would be awesome to have 100%, but that 40% is pretty awesome, considering that every young person has an average audience of 1000 people reading and watching the content that they share.
Exposure is the key in changing things. Right and effective exposure is what will change your way of thinking of politics.
Exposure will leave you thinking and using your young fray matter at times you will be least expect it.
And about the problem of not understanding. Do you realise that it’s all just a trick, right?
You do understand it, you just have to to tune into people who are actually interested in explaining things in plain English.
Alright, I want to vote, but I don’t know where to start.
Congratulations, you made one of the most adult choices in your life, besides doing your own laundry and cooking something for dinner that isn’t mac and cheese.
Depending on where you live, you may have to register to vote. In Italy, voting isn’t compulsory, but in Australia you need to register and once you’re in, you will be fined if you don’t turn up.
Don’t be intimidated by the potential fine, because you do want to vote so you will make it, and if you don’t for plausible reasons, you will be excused. I know, they should make it less intimidating, but didn’t you get the memo on the act that they don’t want you to get there?
Once you register, you are set! You can vote! Hurray.
Now, if you don’t know who to vote for, it might be overwhelming, but luckily the internet has crafted many tools to understand where your politics views stand, even if you just want ‘peace of the world and help the poor’, or ‘you want the company grow’.
If you are in Australia, here are the best tools you can find to help deciding your vote.
And finally, the most important part of the process. TO ACTUALLY VOTE.