Kevin Rudd recently stated in his maiden speech upon becoming Prime Minister again, “that it was hardly a surprise that so many of Australia’s young people had switched off from political debate’’ (Rudd, 2013). Are the youth of today disengaged from politics or do their ideas and energy have the potential to shape the way national challenges are shaped in the future?
This is one of seven essay questions I could choose from in my Academic Writing course. However, since we have had it drilled into us that our opinion does not matter, I have decided against writing an essay. But I do think this is a question that needs to be addressed in society today. So let’s break it into two parts. Are youth disengaged and do they have the potential to shape future challenges.
Do youth have the potential to shape future challenges? That is a bad question, 0 out of 10. Because it’s not a question of ‘do we?’ It’s a question of ‘how will we?’ Like it or not, we are the future. Unless you’ve got some longevity drug I don’t know about, sooner or later today’s youth will be the ones making decisions. Or not. Whatever we chose, whatever we decide, that will shape our challenges. Maybe we will be the last generation; we’ll spend all our time on the Internet until it breaks down because no one is maintaining it. We will be apathetic and our world will collapse around our ears. Or maybe we are active. I’ve already seen the things youth can do. The Internet is a powerful tool, it can be used to fight injustice and spread awareness across the globe. We can break world records and co-ordinate a day of kindness. We can build the world or pull it down. So yes. Of course we’re going to shape future challenges. It’s our future. And maybe we’ll surprise you.
In politics though, I think we’re pretty predictably apathetic. Are today’s youth disengaged from politics? No, really? What gave it away? Give me one good reason why I should be engaging in it. And I don’t mean the whole ‘It’s deciding our nations’ future’, ‘every vote counts’ reason. I mean, why should I care about whether Mr Rudd manages to win himself another term or Mr Abbott finally gets lucky?
Let me sum up what I know about Australian politics. I mean the specific events, not how the system works.
- Kevin ’07 got elected.
- Some policy was removed. Asylum seekers entering illegally on boats increased.
- GFC. No idea what happened but lots of spending apparently kept us from being hit.
- Labor ousted Rudd. Hello Julia Gillard.
- Hung parliament. Labor holds the balance of power, thanks to alliance with Greens and Independents.
- Carbon tax.
- Lots of sniping by both Labor and Liberal.
- There was a scandal involving the Speaker of the House.
- Tony Abbott is apparently a sexist.
- Julia Gillard lost her shoe.
- All either major party seems to do is talk nasty about the other.
- Marriage equality was shot down. Several times.
- Kevin Rudd keeps hanging around.
- Leadership spill. Well, two actually. Rudd won the second one.
- Still more nasty comments about each other.
- We are in debt.
- What are the other parties doing? I don’t know.
Do you know what I get from this? Both of the major parties seem to think that spreading bad stories about the other is the best way to win public vote. I have no clear idea of either party’s policies. What I do hear is either very vague with no action plan in place or very similar to the other side. Mr Abbott doesn’t seem to be living in the same century. Also, the Liberals seem very big on cutting costs everywhere. Education for example. Although I notice a lack of mention about cutting their pay. And while queer people (not heteronormative) are still left without equal marriage rights, straight couples getting married apparently will receive $200. Way to further inequality.
Mr Rudd I don’t trust as far as the front door (for those who haven’t seen my current living quarters, that would be about ten feet away). His own party decided he couldn’t be PM properly. They kicked him out, he hung around for years, playing the sympathy card and pushing into the spotlight where possible. Then he did the exact same thing to Ms Gillard. It makes me think two things. One. The Labor party is chaotic. They can’t decide on a leader. Two. Mr Rudd is interested first in Mr Rudd. He could have used his influence to lend support to Ms Gillard. Instead he rebuilt support for him, dividing the party and drawing loyalty away from Ms Gillard then used the divide to get the top job back. I fail to see how a divided government helps the country.
It’s a generally accepted fact that one of the two major parties will form government. Whether or not they have to negotiate with smaller parties for the support of a few seats is uncertain. But either Liberal or Labor will form government. And every time I switch on the news or open the paper, there’s some new negative about someone. There are opposing opinions. There is backbiting and scandal and just general poor behaviour. Were Parliament a classroom, they would be getting torn to shreds by the teacher. Maybe that’s why some parties are looking to implement cuts in education.
So to sum it up. There are two main parties who are nasty and nastier. All they seem to do is explain what is so bad about the other. Meanwhile I have rent and food to pay. Thankfully my bills are covered. Thankfully I have a decent amount of savings because I don’t earn enough to cover my rent. Living is expensive and I have other priorities that I consider more important than paying attention to the vitriol being flung around. Yes, I am disengaged. It’s a toxic subject. So come Election Day, I will use my vote. I will take a guess at who is better for my country. But if you want me to engage with you, stop acting like group of rowdy, spoilt children.