this blog has moved to a new address:

Please update your RSS, bookmarks, and links to

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

looking for inspiration in all the wrong places.

It's been a busy week, so expect regularly scheduled blogging to resume at some point after Thursday.

Until then, take a read of Laurence Martin's recent Globe & Mail column on which blames young people for his generation of politicians being uninspirational, and Amanda Henry's excellent reaction at The First Drop.

My thought: Writing about youth apathy is easy, but in general, at what point in history have younger generations not been apathetic to the politics of their parents' generation?

UPDATE: David Eaves and Alison Loat have also provided two excellent responses to Martin's column.


Anonymous said...

People don't vote because most politics doesn't matter to them. All parties cling so narrowly to the modern "centre" as to make them largely indistinguishable.

Reintroduce something like a draft lottery or bring in mandatory military service (ala Israel) and watch the youth vote jump out to the polls.

Canada's voter rates are among the worst because our elections are about even fewer real choices than other places.

Perhaps if Jack Layton was openly calling for a nationalized oil company with control of the tar sands, or if Stephen Harper was openly threatening to abolish abortion, then we'd see real turnout.

But nobody cares which stuffed suit runs the country when they all run it EXACTLY THE SAME. Those with an interest in politics can tell you a million small ways the various parties differ, but none of them are substantial to the average non-voter.

Plus a certain segment of the populace are just stupid. Perhaps if they stay home it's actually for the best?

Gauntlet said...

To be honest, the 60s come to mind as an example of a time that the youth were not indifferent to the politics of their parents. Don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Hard to disagree with Anon@11:37.

Political debate in this country is stunted. We aren't allowed to talk about the stuff that would move most people to the ballot box; issues that truly would shape the foundations of our society. Instead, we're left to fight elections over blue ribbon panels on EI ...

Ian said...

Well Dave, no matter what, at least RATT's (or the Room as it's now called) back open and we can drown these complaints in pleasant company.

Harry Marmot said...

Anonymous No. 1 is right to say people won't vote when politics don't matter to them. What is unsaid by him, or in that ridiculous column by Laurence Martin (age 102), is that North American Conservative parties actively engage in "voter suppression" strategies to get groups that aren't likely to vote for them to stay home. Young people would be such a group. Generally, sad to say, it works.

Anonymous said...

Original Anon here. I completely disagree with Harry Marmot's premise. Short of challenging electors status, which both US parties do and almost no one in Canada does, what strategies is Marmot reffering to?

And even if such strategies do exist, it just makes it that much more incumbent on the left (or whoever else) to find ways to get those voters out for them.

In Alberta we already have more non-voters than voters. If parties can properly connect with the non-voting majority and motivate them to the polls, change will come quickly. However I'm a firm believer that most people can never be brought back once they join that non-voting majority. North American life is just too comfortable for those folks to care. Take away the social safety nets and let the economy truly crash. Only then might they get re-engaged.

Anonymous said...

Like the price of a stock or the value of a currency, voter turnout is the "market's" price on the value of a political system.

It is quite clear that young people place little value on politicians, partisanship and silliness.

Perhaps it is those of us who bother to vote and sanctify this insanity that are the stupid ones.

Berry Farmer said...

Have politicians always been held is such low regard? Who are these low-lifes? Are they born from a pool of pond-scum? Are they inherently evil?

Is it wrong to become a politician? Is it only the power-hungry and selfish who become politicians?

Aren't there people with integrity who can get involved without being painted with this awful brush?

If it is indeed impossible to engage the process from within the system, then we deter everyone who might make positive change. We are left with... the politicians we all distrust.

Maybe we on the sidelines bear some responsibility by the constant name-calling and sniping. Are we frightening off those who might toy with the idea of becoming involved.

Why doesn't Daveberta run? Ken Chapman? Gauntlet? You? Me?

All of us have let "democracy" get away from us. It has become a spectator sport... a movie... a TV programme that we can choose not to watch.

Democracy is not an option!

The basic premise of democracy is, "bring more people to the meeting than the other guys." If someone can do that by having better ideas and stronger organisation, then they ought be encouraged not belittled.

Perhaps if we supported politicians more and criticised in a more constructive way, younger people would see the attempt as worthwhile.

Naheed said...

Another piece on the same topic, by someone who's actually been working on it, my good friend Alison Loat.

My piece in today's Herald also touches on one theory.

Alison said...

Dave, thanks for the link. I'll post a summary of the various comments I received on on Monday. Thanks again. Alison