MICHAELS: Riding the wave of election ennui to a hopeful future - InfoNews

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MICHAELS: Riding the wave of election ennui to a hopeful future

October 09, 2019 - 1:30 PM

 


OPINION


Once upon a time, I envied the next wave of voters. As a member of Generation X, there weren’t many political figures for me and my peers to swoon over or stand behind as we became politically engaged. 

We had old curmudgeons whose brand of politics challenged consciousness let alone engagement, according to a column I wrote more than a decade ago.

The future round of new voters, I figured, would have it better.

For one thing, I’d said ever-so-naively, there was a bright-eyed Justin Trudeau waiting in the wings and it was clear he’d be prime minister one day.

He’d shake things up, legitimize idealism and cast aside the army of grey-suit-wearing accountants armed with snide barbs and backroom deals, who passed for Canadian politicians.

His arrival, I figured, would lure more of his kind to the political arena and that low youth voter rate would be turned on its head, while someone who was willing to fight for women, Mother Nature, ethnic minorities, and the ability for all Canadians to benefit from the economy they contributed to would take centre stage. 

Fast forward to this week, not long before another election, and I’ve long since been disabused of the notion that there’s a hero waiting in the wings.

Trudeau, for one, is no more impervious to scandal than the “pussy-grabbing” game show host turned president from south of the border, though mentioning the two in the same breath is actually ludicrous.

He’s a privileged white guy, not an orange monster. 

And, while his political opponents are younger, some tend to bring a little more “he said what? “ than “Je ne sais quoi” to the stage. Others are just... meh.

Youth, I’ve learned as mine has drained away, isn’t exactly the key ingredient to leadership.

The desire to protect all that’s good in the world may, however, be where youth take the lead.

That’s the biggest takeaway from this election cycle thus far.

That future generation I once envied are not entering an ideal world and more of them are aware of that and ready and willing to do something about it. 

As has been seen in recent climate strikes, both locally and beyond our borders, and at political forums, youth engagement seems higher than ever and they're even luring some of the grey-suit class to stand by their side and consider the issues they failed to pay attention to for generations.

Even the quality of the young candidates in this election cycle is worth noting.

NDPer Justin Kulik and Green Party Travis Ashley are young, but neither is even remotely a no-hoper. No-hopers being the people that parties run that have no hope of being elected, at least that's what we should all hope for. 

These two are bright and engaging and they’re not letting the political conversation roll over them in waves of red and blue. They're rising to the challenge being presented at door steps, in rallies and during political debate. 

I'm not naive enough to say they get elected this cycle, though who can really say for sure. I do know, they and the legions of people both young and not-so-much who have been forcing the conversation to be about more than the same ol' Canadian issues have given me something to engage in.

Now let's just see how engaged all these young people are when election day rolls around. It would give this reformed idealist cause for new hope, which is the story that any proper Gen Xer really needs. 


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