Young voters trampled in stampede for family vote
To the 100,00-odd, predominately young voters, who courtesy of Get-Up, will be making their first quivering steps towards the polling booth in a couple of weeks - let me apologise on behalf of the two major parties.
They’re just not that into you.
For both Labor and the Coalition, the love is gone for younger voters. In fact, the two major parties seem to have forgotten these voters whose sway at the ballot box last time around was lauded as having helped unseat a decades-old reigning political force in their mad scramble for the “family” vote.
We are in the midst of a campaign where no baby is safe from being mauled in front of the nation’s media and our shopping centres are haunted by pamphlet-proffering politicians secreting family-friendly policies out of every pore.
This campaign has been dominated by a particularly desperate grasping for the votes of the so-called “Howard Battlers”. Unmoored from allegiance with either party, this nebulous group of supposedly aspirational lower and lower-middle class voters has been hunted like soon-to-be-extinct prey by Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott.
Both of the campaigns have firmly placed the traditional family at the centre of the political narrative.
Appealing to Mum’s and Dad’s hip pockets as they tour the country sharing “ordinary Australians’” concerns about mortgages and school uniforms and paying for that holiday to the Sunshine Coast, Gillard and Abbott have neglected anything but a cursory nod to those voters whose lives face different challenges.
It may have become stock in trade for electioneering, but this emphasis and constant reiteration of the centrality of the family, in policy-making, creates a sense of value and worth around only one segment of the community, at the expense of others who fall outside these bounds.
In the race to the middle, are Gillard and Abbott aware of how disenfranchising and exclusionary their rhetoric is for those not intimately acquainted with the stresses of teething or for those who don’t owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to the bank?
Every time our dear leaders mount a rostrum for a spot of speech-making they address only those who have been fortunate enough to maintain both a relationship and ongoing employment.
But, in doing so there is growing sense of alienation amongst other voters who have been sidelined in the politicians’ scrabble to wear the most genuine mask of concern about the rising cost of school uniforms; as they take their furrow-browed expressions on a national tour in an attempt to dispense empathetic nods about mortgage woes.
Oh, to have been a first-time voter in 2007!
Sure Kevin Rudd and the Labor party wheeled out the “working families” line until a vast swathe of the electorate had to stop themselves dry-retching at the mention of it, but there seemed to be a wider, more inclusive political conversation going on that embraced Gen X and Gen Y.
For the first time in younger voters’ political memory they were posited in a proactive place in the wider conversation. This was a rejection of the worn-out stereotype of apathetic, disengaged layabouts whose only ambitions were to amble through an Arts degree or appear on Master Chef.
Better informed, better connected and with a sense of empowerment and entitlement to be in the thick of the political conversation, the Xers and Ys staked a role in the last election that helped Rudd oust John Howard.
Candidates across the country were so seemingly keen to connect with younger voters it was as if some brave new status-updated dawn of political dialogue was upon us as they raced to tap out the best Twitter quip or create the most popular Facebook group,
So too did Rudd’s pick’n’mix of election issues - the environment, work choices, education - connect with those in their teens, 20s and 30s.
Currently there are approximately 2,000,000 Australians who live in single person homes.
5,438,000 adult Australians do not have children.
Anyone willing to make even the most slapdash attempt to snag these votes?
Kevin, all is forgiven if you bring back the love.
Don’t miss: Get The Punch in your inbox every day
Get The Punch on Facebook
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…