Sunday, March 23, 2014
How To Move Young Canadians To Help Defeat Stephen Harper
It should be obvious by now that the key to winning the next election is getting out the vote.
For why else would Stephen Harper and his Con regime be going to such desperate lengths to suppress it?
And there isn't a group that needs to be encouraged more to vote than young Canadians.
Not just because, as a new study by the pollster Nik Nanos suggests, they can make a huge difference.
Working with Kevin Page, the former parliamentary budget officer, on a project aimed at engaging youth in the political process, Nanos has mined data from his daily polling during the 2011 campaign as well as research done for the Institute for Research on Public Policy to answer the question: What if 60 per cent of young people had voted?
His answer: Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives likely wouldn't have won a majority.
But also because as Nanos points out, their involvement can change the tone and content of the political debate.
"What we find is that their concerns are much more diverse than older Canadians who are fixated on jobs and health care," Nanos said in an interview. "So if you're a younger Canadian, you're twice as likely to say that the environment is a top national issue of concern. You're twice as likely to say that education is a top national issue of concern."
His analysis also suggests older Canadians "are very cynical, they have less confidence in finding solutions" whereas younger people "are actually much more hopeful, have a higher level of confidence in finding solutions."
And our political scene badly needs an injection of hope and optimism.
Because we are an aging country, and with an average age pushing fifty, hope and optimism can be in short supply. Or at least harder to find than it was in the 60s when the average age in Canada was in the twenties.
All you have to do is check out the political blogosphere, and other forms of social media, to see how that's affecting not just the content but the tone of the debate.
It's getting awfully gloomy out there. Almost as gloomy as this Winter from Hell...
And when I look around, I see a lot of older people reciting a litany of doom and gloom, taking only to others their age, and almost competing to see who can venture further into the Valley of Despair.
Now I don't mean that as a criticism, or if it is it's a gentle one. It's only natural that you don't feel the same way at fifty than you did when you were twenty. Nobody has to apologize for being older, or younger. And I am generalizing.
I know some seniors who are younger in spirit than some of the struggling young people I know. Including some old but still fighting vets with whom I'd rather share a trench with than just about anybody else.
But the general mood is pessimistic. Too many older Canadians are in their silos, contemptuous of the young. Too many young Canadians are nowhere, lost in our shallow culture, or buried in their mobiles.
That ghastly gloom reflects itself in the way our political parties tailor their messages. And it's no way to attract young people into the political process.
While the mechanics of voting are important, Nanos said his research suggests political leaders could do more to engage young people simply by talking about the issues that concern youth and adopting a more hopeful, can-do manner.
Because if you want them to engage them first you must move them with a hopeful vision of something greater.
Which is why I try to remain as hopeful and as positive as I possibly can on this blog. Even when the horror of living in this filthy Harperland depresses me beyond belief.
Because I know the power of hope and optimism. I know that when you fire up their idealism, young people can engage in the political process in a truly amazing and creative manner.
I know that if you move them, there is nothing the Cons can do to suppress them.
I saw it with my own eyes in the streets of Montreal...
I saw how a student movement grew to become a movement of people of all ages...
I saw how a student strike evolved to become a debate about the real problems of our society and our world.
And how it couldn't be shutdown no matter how many thousands they arrested...
And I will never forget the day, two years ago yesterday, when an army of the young came marching down the road...
Nothing before or since has given me more hope that we can tackle the real problems that threaten our country and our planet.
Nothing convinced me more that what happened there, can, will, and must happen again.
And few images moved me more than this humble little video all the way from Vancouver...
Because solidarity is EVERYTHING.
Young and old can learn from each other, and encourage each other.
They can march down that road to a better future together.
The Cons are afraid of the youth vote, with good reason. That's why they are trying to make it harder for them to vote.
But united we can crush that ghastly regime.
Be positive, stay hopeful.
Better days are coming....
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