This week I attended the interesting World Forum for Democracy, yet another conference in which speakers deplore the so-called “disaffection of young people for politics and elections”.
In my view, young people may be disaffected with voting, but not with politics.
Their behavior reflects the fact that the act of voting is in fact a most disempowering way to participate in a democracy. We are witnessing a shift in young peoples’ democratic conduct towards what they consider to be true participation. Most civics education today at best educates young people to be voters, not to participate in a democracy. Considering today’s enormous disruptions and challenges, educating children to be ‘good voters’ is no longer a reasonable answer.
In the current political situation, many of us who share humanistic values are left with a feeling of bitterness when it is time to cast a ballot in political elections and be confronted with so little choice.
An identical scenario seems to unfold in most “western democracies”: an electoral scenario in which your only freedom as a citizen is to either vote for “the establishment elite” (the status quo, the so-called ‘candidate of finance’ who prones the continuance of globalised capitalism and the pursuit of a ‘kleptocracy’), or abstain/cast a blank ballot and thus support the extreme, most often far right, candidate that openly stirs up exclusion, division, discrimination, sexism, xenophobia and racism (the ‘candidate of hate’ as some call the far right candidates). This is a disempowering agony that we go through election after election. The system is infantilising citizens.