Monday, July 29, 2013

The Dreaded 'Youth Vote'

Oh, the impertinences of our wayward youth!

Sure they can't form informed political decisions at the polling booth.

But hark, ye hopeful candidate, you're about to step in a big pile of it if you ignore the youth vote; so ignore it at your peril.

While it's true that in Australia there's swathes of people aged 18-25 not enrolled to vote, this age bracket still can still hold a deciding factor on who becomes Prime Minister.

It's also true that youth are disengaged with politics - I was recently talking to a 22-year-old girl who did not even know what 'Questions Time' was, and could not recall ever seeing it on television.

After re-composing (or is that re-composting) myself at this utter lack of basic political awareness, I scurried back to my lair and considered that in actual fact, why should she have ever heard of it?

Question Time is nothing but an hour or so of rambunctious hooliganism at the cost of the taxpayer - and with Tony Abbott at the helm, we've seen more 'no confidence motions' than a toilet at the retirement home, all of which were entirely pointless spiels.

And of course, the government's own people ask its own people 'questions' - a sort of theatre is good old Question Time, theatre for the people, but a theatre that turns many off politics.

There was also the case of the young lady who asked me what the difference between Liberal and Labor were - I was genuinely stumped in providing an answer, because especially of late, there actually are very little differences.

Abbott himself of course holds a particular 1950s attitude and style towards society and women writ large of course, but between the parties themselves, the only difference is in ideology and not so much in their actual governance.

With no clear difference between, you may well ask 'what's the point in voting?'.

Between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, Rudd is a clear favourite amongst the voting youthful public; he's routinely swamped by youngsters, and has 1.3 million Twitter followers, compared to Tony Abbott's dismal 142,000.

And have you seen some of things that Abbott writes on his Twitter? All rather mundane blue-tie stuff, and I'm sure there's a smattering 'we'll stop the boats!' in there somewhere just for good measure.

In other words, Abbott has the personality of cardboard - youth don't like cardboard, unless it forms the silhouette and image of Beyonce or something, and Abbott doesn't strike me as Beyonce - tough luck for Mr. Abbott.

Of course, there are youth that would vote for Abbott; the misguided youth.

These are youth from conservative, upright, righteous, business-owning families, and it's true that a parent's voting pattern heavily influences that of their children, lest they stray from the loins of the conservative father and risk being reprimanded for turning into a smelly, dirty lefty.

Off with his unkempt head!

At Tony Abbott's last big 'press conference' (and I use the term lightly, because they are greatly rehearsed and not at all spontaneous) he was standing in front of a large group of elderly people, who seemingly rallied behind Mr Abbott when he was asked about his senior staffer's drink driving charge.

"Woooaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!" the elderly crowd jeered at the journalist, who was obviously in hot water for not asking pre-rehearsed question.

Can you imagine a similar response if Abbott was surrounded by a group of teenagers?

I would think not, and while Gillard had sandwiches thrown at her at a few high schools, Abbott would be thrown the whole loaf.

Abbott does not know how to approach the youth vote. To him, young people are something that are nothing but trouble, just a bunch of lazy, half-witted, tone deaf rebels who all need to be sequestered down in Gina Rinehart's mines.

'Seen but not heard' would be Abbott's view of youngsters, and not at one point have I heard him painting youth in a positive light; he only ever talks about how they are all unemployed and need a big stick.

So, to both Rudd and Abbott, I would say they need to consider the youth vote very carefully in the upcoming election; they must present a forward-thinking progressive, engaging platform, and not write-off the opinions of young people.

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