TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

What would it take for our youth to vote or become interested in democracy and politics? Why is there currently a disconnect?

Currently working on an advertising campaign for Elections Canada - trying to tackle the issue of youth apathy. Any ideas, insights or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Share:
  • thumb
    Nov 3 2012: I assume by "our youth" you intend the USA. What it takes to dispel ignorance is education. What it takes to dispel apathy is education. By education I do not mean formal schooling. I mean discovering for one's self what exactly is going on. Whether one likes politics or not it is the mechanism which determines the distribution of power in America. Non-participants have the net effect of supporting whoever wins the election because they did not exercise their power to oppose that victor. The current disconnect is, I believe, the result of scandalous, unethical conduct on the part of elected leaders. No one has disenfranchised the youth of America. . . they make that choice for themselves as individuals. Freedom takes vigilance and work. It decays without maintenance.
    • thumb
      Nov 3 2012: What fast Eddy said. (8^(l)

      Unfortunately the most ubiquitous medium for education is the culture...
  • Nov 3 2012: Well, as a college kid, I know some of it is apathy. I live in a different town from where i registered to vote. It took a bit of planning to get all of my absentee voting done in time. Not much, but enough to discourage others. That might be part of it. I bet if they had some kind of online-voting, there would be a lot more younger people interested. This could lead to a lot of corruption though. It is just an idea. If they somehow had a system in which students could vote at their university, I bet that would encourage voting. That might be problematic too though.

    I know a lot of college kids who are interested in politics.They are like a lot of the population in the regard that they are tired of the very polarized parties. I have even heard things like "Im not going to vote because there is no good candidate to vote for." Also, there are a significant number of liberal thinkers on campus. I live in Alabama which is a very conservative state. The very real fact that their vote might "not count" in the electoral system is very prevalent.

    Overall, I think teenage apathy is cause by many of the reasons that middle-aged voter turnout is so low.
  • thumb
    Nov 3 2012: I guess a lot of people think elections are a popularity contest between ugly corrupt people who don't even pretend to care about anything else than being elected.
    Personnally, I don't vote because it would require from me that I get interested in politics. I can't afford my life to be any less exciting right now.
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2012: Honestly I am surprised that No one has made any comments on my suggestions, The vote and who is allowed to exercise it in our country is the single most modified portion of the constitution the age has been changed from 21 to 18, the franchise extended to people of color and to women, its not unrealistic to modify the age down again in light of the shift in median age and the advancement of education and communication the voting percentage of those enfranchised is pretty sad, I suppose that the percentage might be a little better in a newly en franchised group, and its possible that they might continue to vote as time goes by. The future of the world is in the hands of the people we elect, why do we not let those who are going to inherit the fruits of their efforts help select them? As for the idea of having the school body represented in the town and county government it just makes sense that the interests of the students in the way that their community is regulated should be heard. I posted this in hopes that there might be some feed back, thank you.
  • thumb
    Nov 7 2012: Public online voting, attached to social networks. Once the ballot is fixed, people set up an account, and put all their votes in online publicly. Until the election, people can comment, on your vote, and you can change it. The votes can't be faked, because there are available publicly, and you can check the accuracy of your own vote. Probably cost a few million dollars to develop, but it would definately get everyone more engaged.

    Aside from that... Fredom of speech, an end to the drug war, and an end to real wars, are usually a good pitch to young people.
  • Nov 7 2012: When did you become interested in politics, and why? Sharing these stories would provide a lot of information on this topic.

    Youth perceive life differently than adults. To youth, the world is huge. There are billions of people doing billions of things for billions of reasons. It's all confusing. It's all noise. There are no patterns. It doesn't mean anything for a few people to be in charge, because everyone's in charge of their own life. Anyone can take charge and change the world. Youth have no idea what's really important because everything is new and strange. Youth are also insane. Youth become overwhelmed by their emotions and have trouble seeing the big picture.

    Adults have seen enough of the world to see the patterns. Adults make more money and have more property they want the government to protect. Adults know what is important to them because they have children who are the most important thing in the world.

    And yet you want youth to be involved and vote anyway. So, either you nurture youth into adults, or you make voting look really shiny. Most answers you get are ways to make voting look more shiny. Almost all the answers you get are ways to get into youth's faces. Changing youth is more effective when you're sneaky.
  • thumb
    Nov 6 2012: Take a careful look at the election strategies and the targeted population. The college students have been a very highly targeted population for the last few elections. Another targeted population is the woman vote. As always the religious vote. The last two elections have seen the minority voters (latinos) as the center of attention.

    In the US the unions have a strong impact in funding and soliciting votes. Through teachers unions the professors are almost all socialist in thought and democratic in political affilation. My daughter said that the professors all make a pitch for Obama and that the students should consider him the clear choice. It would help if you found out if that is occuring in your country.

    Look at the ads from the past and it will become clear what the tatrgets are.

    Apathy is not a new thing in politics as many feel that the candidates say one thing but practice another .... that they are all crooks .... that they have the agenda of big money supporters at heart and not the country ... etc ....

    Here are some facts to support the youth vote logic: Total population 18 - 25 (college students age?) How many are currently enrolled ..... what the spread in the last election was and how the student block of votes would have influenced that result. ... show percentages .... how would / did / could it effect the lives of the college students ... how does it effect educational funding .. student loans ... parents of college students (loans) ... jobs upon graduation ... get the picture. Link the party platforms to the student directly.

    Good luck and keep us informed.

    All the best. Bob.
    • thumb
      Nov 7 2012: I'm kind of curious what college your daughter goes too... Many professors at CSUN, and my local community college would talk about liberal causes if you asked privately, but they never wasted class time on it, I think that's a bit unusual.

      I would also suggest that the number one issue for many college teachers, is the emotional issue of abortion and sex education, but it's not because of socialist intents, or liberal bias... teen pregnancy and std transmission, are the most serious emotional issue they deal with with students in their day to day life. It's a public health issue, and despite the fact that "abstinence only" education, has been proven not to work, the hard right still embrace it.

      The average person, maybe knows someone who has had an abortion... The average teacher, knows a hundred before they retire, easy... As long as the religious right dominate abortion and sex ed on the right, teachers will always swing hard left, and I don't see that changing any time soon. Just thought that might surprise you. This is based on personal experience, but i'm sure I could find some polling to back it up if I took the time.
  • thumb
    Nov 4 2012: This video in apt to this discussion:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/dave_meslin_the_antidote_to_apathy.html
  • thumb
    Nov 4 2012: To begin with, lower the voting age to 15 or 16. In a world where children age 12 are being tried as adults and in some states facing death penalty or life sentences its not unreasonable to allow more youths to vote, this would also begin to counter balance the greying of the vote, a process that contributes to the feeling that voting is meaningless to youths. Next do away with mail in only voting and return to having polling places, replace the voting day with the voting 3 day weekend to allow more people to decide that its actually worth vothing and to allow enough time for the polling place not to have prohibitive lines. Return to the system where the canidate with the most votes becomes president and the person finishing second is vice president, stop having parties run teams, in fact do away with primaries and allow as wide a feild of canidates as possible.

    If thats not enough, have a civics class in each elementary and secondary school where the students spend the time they are in that institution working on some political project, changing the speed limit on a road or addding a tax to cars with engines over a certain size what ever project apeals to the class .

    Change local representation to include commisoners or aldermen to represent the schools in town and county government and elect the representative from the student body.

    Just a few ideas .
  • thumb
    Nov 3 2012: It would take a decline in 'bread and games' or, more modern 'fast food and smartphones'.

    But also then 'democracy' would have to change back to its original meaning.
  • thumb
    Nov 3 2012: some truth.

    democracy is a trojan horse. a beautiful lie. a convenient, stirring concept that has no basis in reality.

    maybe if there were some visionary leaders instead of the same old bureaucrats ticking the same old boxes there might be some inspiration to get involved.

    i think it's because politics as we know it is broken and well past its use-by date.
  • Nov 3 2012: Youth today (and every era actually) assumes that they should not vote because politics will do nothing for them.
    This is correct, because politicians see that they can be safely ignored and they will either not vote or not vote in a block.
    Look at what politics is the servant to....big money, big business and those who want power or want to keep power. They pay attention to politics, vote in blocks and even go so far as to corrupt the court system and elections to get their own way.
    Youth must do the same or they will stay irrelevant until they become irrelevant adults.
  • thumb
    Nov 3 2012: Hi Dakota:

    Direct democracy via the Internet?

    JB