Shallow campaigns have alienated young voters
I voted for the first time this election. Willing to be a swinging voter in return for a competent government, I should have been the perfect target for a campaigning politician.
Yet the major parties do a better job at alienating youth than including us.
The incapacity to decipher anything politicians say or mean is alienating to youth who prefer a quick sound bite that is straight to the point. For voters of every age, accessing information more substantial than if the ‘real’ Julia or Tony is out today or who has better suited ears for Prime Ministership was hard this election.
After this weekend no one can doubt Australia’s frustration with such a shallow campaign.
The results don’t point to a huge swing against Labor or a huge swing to the Coalition. There was a 1.9% swing to the Coalition, but to put that into perspective, the informal vote is at 1.7%. There was no significant lurch to the right, as most of the votes Labor lost went to the Greens.
The only recognisable swing was to boycott the major parties in favour of minor ones.
Living in the Labor stronghold of Chisholm in Victoria did put a bit of a damper on my first vote. Chances were the seat was going to remain stable no matter who I voted for, so I felt disenfranchised in that sense, like my opinions didn’t matter.
Yet for many of my friends living in the seat of Melbourne, their vote has been noticed nationally, with a 10.2% swing to the Greens and the first ever Greens MP.
Melbournians set their agenda throughout the campaign, focusing on climate change, global poverty, human rights and refugees. With 9337 donors to Oxfam from this electorate alone, Executive Director of Oxfam Andrew Hewitt described Melbourne voters as having a humanitarian conscience.
It was Adam Bandt’s public advocacy for stronger leadership on climate change at many local forums that sealed the deal for Melbourne voters, and in particular young voters.
I was surprised by his honesty. He is the first Greens member I’ve heard to actually explain why the Greens turned down the ETS in the first place.
“The ETS locked in a low target (5%) for a long amount of time, and future governments wouldn’t have been able to change it…we need to cut emissions by 40% by 2020.”
Clear and simple.
Yet I fear that for most politicians climate change has become one of those problems too immense to deal with. There’s just too much effort involved, put it on the ‘too hard’ pile. After all, they won’t live to see the consequences, we will.
However, with the Greens set to hold the balance of power in the Senate next July, there is hope that there will be enough momentum to shift the agenda away from major party lines to more substantial action.
For those of you who think that youth are apathetic, it is usually because we feel disillusioned and excluded. Our opinions don’t matter; our vote isn’t worth being persuaded. So why bother?
Despite these odds we want to turn alienation into action.
A hung parliament may actually be just what Australia needs to act on youth concerns. With governments created by negotiation, our concerns are better represented and better listened to. No longer can governments, political parties and local members be complacent about our opinions because each vote will become more precious than ever.
It might just set a new precedent that reflects what democracy truly is. Of the people, by the people, for the people.
As the only developed nation that avoided recession, we are sick of being told we can’t afford what is essential for our future. We want to create a better Australia that gives the best possible life to all its citizens. We are the leaders of tomorrow and our voices deserve to be taken seriously.
Youth are more politically aware than most people think. But if you want us to really get involved in the political process you have to take into account the future.
Not one election cycle. Not the next three years.
If our vote really matters to you look to the next twenty years. I can guarantee you will have my vote.
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