So apparently a quarter of young people aren't enrolled to vote.
I really don't see why this is so surprising.
When my brother was a kid he didn't realise that being a teenager just meant you were of a certain age- he thought they were actually a criminal gang- like the mongrel mob. He would say "Mum, mum, I saw some teenagers at the park." Hmm wonder where he got that idea from? Oh yeah, the media. Anyone noticed how stories about young people in the media are negative most of the time? My brother sure did.
Now how the fuck are 18 year old's supposed to grasp the idea that they play an important role in society when they've spent the last 5 years being treated like idiots by the media, hassled by the police, getting the evils from shopkeepers, being told what to do by teachers etc? You've spent the last 18 years being told what to do and having your life run by the school bell. Suddenly you've got the chance to figure your life our for yourself- but you have no idea how to do that. You're a bit fucking busy working at your shithouse minimum wage job, finding a flat, figuring out what the fuck to do with the rest of your life.
Also, many young people don't feel like they understand politics. Personally I think many MP's are to blame for this. They spend to much time trying to outdo each other with their fancy words and wanking over each other that it puts young people off. We don't all grow up in households with parents who specialise in using economic wankery vocabulary at the dinner-table. Not because we're stupid, but because we're not wankers. Then you get the MP's who kind of get that, but instead compensate by over-simplifying everything when talking to young people and patronising them- well shit. That ain't gonna get you votes either mate. Like I said- we're not stupid- but we're not wankers either.
And how often do we see the average young person actually involved in politics. Yeah, yeah I know, parties have their youth branches etc- but do these branches actually encourage your average young person to become more involved in politics? They're all based at universities for one thing, tip for your trip- not all young people go to university at 18. Again, not because they're stupid but because they a) might be more interested in getting a job and earning money, b) they don't want to rack up a huge student loan when they don't even know what they want to do with their lives and c) it's just not an option for some people.
If you want to reach out to young people then you have to look a wee bit further than your local university and the politics club. Seriously, these people are MAJOR turn-off to your average 18-25 year old. Hell I'm interested in politics but I wouldn't get involved in these clubs if you paid me 4 times the minimum wage. I might consider it for 5x though.)
The third reason why young people don't vote is that they think it is a waste of time and it won't acheive anything anyway.
I can kind of understand that point of view.
That hasn't come from nowhere- it has come from a place where these people as kids have seen their parents struggle in a world where politics has made very little actual difference in their lives.
Union membership has dropped over the last generation or two. The very kiwi 'tall poppy' attitude means that your average kiwi of any age will rarely get involved in any kind of activism or industrial action. Those that do are seen as being a bit crazy, complainers, the oddballs of society. Or people may agree with you quietly, but they'll be damned if they will actually join you in holding up a sign. How embarrassing!
We need to drop the 'tall poppy' and show these rangatahi that they are important, they are worth nore to us, and what they think is important and they are powerful enough to make differences in their lives.
So, here's some tips for politicans and parties who actually do truthfully want to empower rangatahi and get them enrolled and voting and taking an active part in society.
1: Leave your jargon at home, but treat these people with the respect they deserve. This generation is cynical and will see through any bullshit you try to throw at them.
2: Get involved- not just with the ten political club members at your closest uni. Try sports clubs, music events, or even their workplaces. I led over 50 strikes at my workplace- the majority of which are between 18-28. The only politician that turned up to support was Metiria Turei. Thanks Metiria :) BTW my workplace is a 10 minute walk from parliament. Kind of no excuse really is there?
3: Give a damn. Kind of an add-on to #2. If you see young people somewhere with a problem, get in there and help them out. If you see young people doing something awesome, let them know you think so. And when you have the opportunity to make a difference in their lives- a real, measurable difference, then do so.
Remember that this generation could be the difference between you keeping your job or not, and we have long memories.