Saturday, September 14, 2013

On Gen Y, social media, municipal politics and getting off your goddamn ass

So I had one of those “Gah, but you… Gah!” moments the other day when I went to the Newfoundland CBC website and found an op-ed piece by Candice Walsh chastising candidates for not doing enough to reach out and get Generation Y age voters to participate in the election. You can read her piece here. It caused one of those spikes in blood pressure that two years ago I would have been concerned might give me a stroke.

One more advantage to weight loss…much less likely to die from reading op-ed pieces. Stroking out after reading something from Margaret Wente would be a profoundly stupid way to go. I would write about her “oh, rape isn’t really a big deal on campus” piece, but I think I would actually explode if I seriously let myself get started.

So anyway, voter engagement. Look, I’m a huge believer in the importance of voting. I believe you should be fined if you don’t vote. This is a step towards moderation from my original plan of going door to door with a taser and asking people if they’ve voted.

I think the voting age should be dropped to 16. I believe that the tobacco, coffee, soft drink figured something out that most politicians never have…get them hooked when they’re young. I was thrilled when I discovered the voting age for elections with my previous employer was 16. I was developing grand plans to really target kids to go and vote. Make it a big deal. That they can do something 16 year olds down south can’t do.

Get them started early, and make them realize why it’s so vital to inform yourself on the issues and to get out and vote. In that regard, I think generations of Canadians have a legitimate beef with that part of their education. For that matter, I want a You’ll Actually Need This class, where they teach you how to use credit cards, how to budget, how to write a resume and do a job interview. Throw the importance of voting in there.

Anyway, the op-ed complains that candidates are not doing enough to reach out to people in their 20s, who are not at apathetic and disengaged. They want to care, but people are not doing enough to reach out to them and the quality of candidates is lacking.


First of all, it’s your job to care about the damn election. Yes, a smart candidate should be reaching out to voters on multiple platforms and not just plastering those ugly goddamn signs all over the city. However, those signs reach older people, who apparently have managed to figure out the importance of voting in municipal elections. But if they’re not reaching out to you on Twitter or Facebook, it’s because they probably view it as a waste of limited resources (resources are not just money, they're also time. And you need time to do a proper social media strategy. Ask people who think it's a cheap and easy thing to do and how that works out for them) because they don’t think you’re going to go out to vote anyway.

Democracy isn’t something you’re spoon fed when you’re sitting in your high chair, folks. There is some work to this. If you’ve got ideas, then you can’t wait until someone comes courting you over social media. You either have to run, support someone who is running, or find someone who you can convince that these issues are damn important and require serious consideration.

We have a territorial election here next month. I can't wait to start asking my questions.

I don’t know why people view municipal elections as less important than federal or provincial ones. They’re not. That ugly damn fence down by the waterfront that everyone complains about? That’s your city councilors at work, right there. Or preserving downtown? Or the quality of city services. Almost pulped walking to university because the sidewalks aren’t cleared? Yeah, there might be a solution to that. Municipal politics is day-to-day, ground-level stuff. It's not flashy, but never doubt its importance.

It’s funny, as I was writing this I was scrolling through Twitter. I follow a brilliant New York artist named Molly Crabapple, who turned 30 on Friday. She was talking to a friend and reminiscing about being young, stupid and fighting for every bloody inch.

I don’t mind being young and stupid. I was young and stupid. I wish at least once a day I knew then what I know now. I know my parents were young and stupid just by measuring the distance between their wedding and my birthday. But I love the line about fighting for every bloody inch. Because if you’re whining in an op-ed about people not doing enough to reach out to you in an election, instead of reaching out and taking every bloody inch from them on issues that are important to you, then don’t expect a lot of sympathy when they get elected and steamroll you…again.

Last Five
1. Run - Vampire Weekend*
2. The mason's apron - The Chieftains
3. Always look on the bight side of life - Spamalot (OCR)
4. Every in ambition - The Trews
5. Jacob's ladder - Bruce Springsteen

1 comment:

John, Canberra AU said...

That's the spirit! I like how you put down running for office as the first option for when you have ideas. That's your subconscious telling you something.

I loved this recent John Oliver piece on "The Daily Show" on the Australian election. Speaking as an American, I think the Aussie electoral system will keep this country great while the USA flounders in gerrymandered partisanship.

It certainly was a fun election, and now it looks to be a very entertaining parliament. And now I have a front row seat!