Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Youth Apathy: Faulty Premise

So why don’t we vote (we; youth or those under the age of 25) is a question that everyone thinks they have the answer to. Is it because we have no faith in are political leaders, is it because they do not talk about issues that matter to us, is it because we rather be doing something else, is it because we are simply uniformed? Problem is everyone who asks this question is someone who is obviously engaged with the political process and is interested.

I have always found it funny when panels of youth are on a TV discussing why youth are much less likely to cast a ballot then adults. Problem is these people are usually representing either a political party, or a youth organization such as Rush the Vote. I would love to see them put three guys who have no idea about who is running or even that there is an election ask those guys for their opinions.

One of the most popular explanations for voter apathy in youth is that political leaders are not relevant to us and that the issue they discuss do not effect our demographic. Problem with this thesis is that the data simply does not back this up. Youth are interested in the same issues as adults. Healthcare is important to them, so is the economy. Education and the environment are also important but contrary to public believe this is not the most important issues for us.

The other explanation, that cynicism thesis also does not check out. In fact youth are more satisfied with our political leaders and the system then adults. We are just as skeptical as adults about election promises and when it came to the sponsorship scandal, ditto, we were just as pissed as are parents.

So why I am discussing this, today in the G&M an article appeared on the op-ed page about youth and our low voting tendencies. The article made some recommendations which I will discuss maybe at a different date but the premise on why we do not vote in the article is wrong like so many others on this important issue.

This basic premises are what groups such as Rush the Vote and other groups have been basing their campaigns on. How can you create a program to encourage youth participation when it is based on a fault assumptions? No wonder why they have been utter failures.

Note: my sources come from the yearly Canadian Election Study, http://www.ces-eec.umontreal.ca/ces.html among many many many other academic publications I have read on this incredibly boring topic.

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