Generational conflict awaits Canadians -- unless the young are brought into the political process. And Franks Graves' latest polling suggests that is not happening. Graves reports:
Among younger Canadians there is clear sense that the playing field is tilted to favour older voters. This perception may be grounded in harsh realities about how the economy, our democracy and our public institutions are performing. The youth vote is increasingly irrelevant to the business of winning elections — so political agendas tend more and more to reflect the wishes and fears (both real and imagined) of older Canada. This, in turn, may be leading to the permanent political disengagement of the young — who increasingly see a political process that doesn’t reflect their needs, their concerns and their ethics.
The Harper government has focused its pitch solely on baby boomers, whereas the children of the boomers have been forgotten.The gap between them and their parents is profound. The young are:
much more ethnically and culturally diverse — and more educated — than previous generations. They grew up in a digital climate and are completely at home with modern information technology. Their social values are highly progressive — but they suffer from being the first post-war generation that failed to benefit from the middle class covenant of intergenerational progress. They’re entering their peak years of economic influence and they’re raising families now — but they will never have the political and market clout enjoyed by the boomers that preceded them, and will be shoved to the side by the larger echo boom of Gen Y and millennials now coming of age.
And the Gen Y folks are even more distant from the present government's agenda. Together with the GenXer's, they don't buy any of the Harperian prescriptions for this country:
They are extremely progressive in their social values; the small-c conservative values of hard work, self-reliance, traditional family values and respect for authority are basically meaningless to this generation. They’ve entered a stagnant and unequal economy and their futures look much less bright than those of their parents at the same stage of life. They’re deferring the usual rites of passage — starting a career, marrying, building a family — further and further into the future.
So what is the Harperian plan to deal with the young? Turn them off and keep them turned off. As long as the young stay away from the polling booths, the Harperites feel they are safe. However, it's clear that the future belongs to the politicians who can harness the energy of the young.