Talking down doesn’t turnout voters

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The tattooed hooligan stereotype is dead. Now let’s put it to bed. 

A recent article in The Kingston Whig-Standard entitled “A how-to guide to voting for Tattooed Millennials” made us collectively scratch our heads at its portrayal of voting as an event similar to getting a tattoo. 

According to the article, if youth were to “make the leap from body art to electoral participation”, then “Canada might actually have a new government.”

At best, this “how-to guide” is a failed satirical attempt to encourage young people to vote.

At worst, it’s a mocking and downright offensive depiction of a younger generation as too occupied being rebels to care about anything. 

In either case, the metaphor essentially boils down to the same condescending and patronizing attitude that discourages young people from voting in the first place. 

This article rehashes the deluded idea of the “millennial” generation as apathetic towards a political arena that cares less about them then they do about it. 

Youth voter turnout has been declining. Consequently, the issues that most affect youth are less of a concern for campaigning politicians. 

But talking down to the underrepresented — implying that their laziness or lack of interest is inhibiting them from participating in our democracy — only misrepresents them further. 

Young people are motivated to vote by their job security, social services, tuition costs, security policies and cultural tolerance — not by the fact that, unlike getting a tattoo, its safe to shave your legs afterwards. 

The assumption that someone’s fondness for body art impairs their ability to make conscientious political decisions is baffling. It also plays off a troubling association of tattoos with ignorance and traditionally underrepresented lower classes. 

This author also seems to think that if only youth could find their way to a polling station, they would naturally vote against the current government. 

Young people are learning and are bound to disagree strongly on political matters. We shouldn’t assume that a younger demographic is any less diverse or multi-faceted in its opinions and concerns than the rest of Canada. 

Nor can older generations hold youth responsible for fixing the political decisions they now regret.  

If we truly want youth to have an opinion and hold themselves accountable, we have to start acting like we trust them to make the right decision. 

But if the tattoos are the only motivation older generations think we can understand, then we have a lot of work to do. 

In the meantime though, we’ll do our best to drag our lazy, inked selves away from our jobs, schoolwork, unpaid internships, apprenticeships, loan applications and exams to defy your expectations.  

— Journal Editorial Board

 

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