As Young People, Do We Care More About US Politics Than Our Own?

May 10, 2017

In the wake of the upcoming general election my news feed has been suspiciously quiet.

During the recent American election campaign my social media feed was flooded by angry status updates, links to clips and petitions and invitations to demonstrations and protests. Young people demanding change by standing up to injustice and making their voice heard. And yet when the time comes to make a definite change in their own country, young people in Britain seem remarkably indifferent.

 

I am no exception. I attended the anti-Trump women’s rights march, signed many petitions in the wake of the ‘Muslim ban’, and can name far more members of Trump’s cabinet than that of Theresa May’s.

 

This level of apathy is reflected in the polls. In each general election from the 1960s up until and including in the 1997 general election (when the Labour party under Tony Blair won a landslide victory), around 66% of young people turned out to vote. But, since 1992, youth turnout rates at UK general elections has been in sharp and steady decline culminating in a 43% youth turn out to the 2015 general election, compared with 66% across the electorate.

 

So what has changed? Why do young people no longer feel that getting involved in politics is a viable way to implement change?

 

There is no simple answer. Yet, with the country still reeling after our shock departure from the European Union, despite 75% of young people voting to remain, it is no wonder that we feel our voice is not

being heard. Many young people feel that they have been robbed of free education and affordable housing and now, in the wake of Brexit, shall no longer enjoy the freedom of movement granted to our elders. Young people are left with the sentiment that voting is futile and that politicians have nothing to offer them.

However, unless we can find a way to once again engage the young population in current affairs then nothing will improve. An estimated 75% of people 65 years and over will vote in this election compared to only 42% of 18- to 24-year-olds. Politician's actions reflect the wants of those of an active electorate, and implement policies for the people who can put them into power.

Older people vote, and sadly, and increasingly, we do not.

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