Says Lawrence Martin: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/if-theres-an-inspiration-deficit-in-our-politics-blame-it-on-the-young/article1247173/
Back in say, 2003-004, the issue of youth alienation from politics was a big one, with Paul Martin making the issue part of his general push of "democratic renewal" when he took over as Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister.
Now, the issue of youth politics is lower on the national agenda than ever before. I think a few factor contribute to this. One, youth feel even less engaged in the political system than ever before. If in 2004 the buzzword as alienation, with youth wanting to get involved, but not knowing how, the current zeitgeist is one of apathy, with youth really not caring one way or the other about politics.
Martin's article mentions young voters are drawn towards the Green Party in numbers far greater than other demographics. With large numbers of youth who are engaged politically locked in to supporting a party that probably will fail to win a seat for the 3rd consecutive election since they broke out of the fringes, the major parties see no point in reaching out to a segment of the population that probably won't vote to start with, and if they do, will vote for a party that has little ability to influence the national agenda of the country.
What Martin doesn't discuss, and I think is relevant to understanding why youth are disengaged, is the general sense of my generation that things need to happen quickly. Generation Y is a impatient bunch, and I think we lack a general understanding that it takes time and energy to make course changes of the great ship of state. We do care about things like Darfur and the environment, so we go to rallies, wear fashionable buttons, etc, but don't vote, because we see the political system as too slow moving to try and make social change. This is most unfortunate, because in the political climate of this nation, party politics and parliamentarism is the only effective way to make changes.
However, I do target Martin for saying that it is the fault of the youth for the "inspirational defict." Last election, Stephane Dion and the Green Shift offered the most bold vision for country, and the probably the first time since Turner/Mulroney in the free trade election of 1988 that a major party ran an election campaign around a "big idea." It was not the youth who felt that Dion was "not a leader" or that a carbon tax was a "crazy idea". Many pundits who now lament that Canada lacks leaders with "vision" were the same ones who said that the Green Shift in post-mortem was too bold a policy idea.
However, I do think we can tie the idea of youth being disengaged to the recent poll findings that says that the Liberals are starting to fall behind the NDP and the Conservatives among youth voters. As a Young Liberal, I believe we have to do a much better job of promoting the values of liberalism to youth. We need to talk about how only the Liberal Party can deliever a Canada to the youth of today that is united tomorrow, with a stronger economy. This summer was the worst on record for youth employment, when Parliament resumes, I believe Ignatieff should emerge with a strong youth employment strategy, to both help the economy, which is issue number 1, and re-engage youth supporters back to the Liberal Party.