I read this post today about young people being liberals. This section particularly struck a chord:
As I pondered the deluge, one sentiment from conservatives struck me: that I was too young to understand the wisdom of conservative ideology. As if my neocortex needs to evolve for another ten years, until finally developing that Personal Responsibility Radar that seems to be a byproduct of age.
I’ve heard the “too young” excuse too often concerning politics and it aggravates me every time. The quote above is about conservatism but the same principle applies to politics in general. Politicians want the youth vote, just not the youth opinions or ideas. It’s condescending and insulting. Apparently, you have to be alive for a great number of years before you can have a grasp of how the world works. Only then can you really manage to screw it up (look at the gridlock in the US Congress).
This reminds me of a conversation I had with some friends where I suggested someone should run as a party leader (I’m Canadian by the way). Every single person told me he was too young to take on that kind of responsibility. The MP in question is forty years old. Not exactly right out of high school. How old do you need to be before people don’t question your competence based solely on your age?
The current average age of the members of the Canadian House of Commons is 50.52. The average age of the Canadian population is 39.9. The Canadian population isn’t exactly being represented by their peers. And it’s not just about age. Women, visible minorities, atheists, and LGBT people are all underrepresented in politics. Important decisions that affect all these segments of the population are being made by old christian heterosexual white men. Let’s face it, this is the part of the population that has the most rights. It’s given them advantages. They’re not exactly in a hurry to make things better for everyone else because they don’t think everyone else has it that bad. Not to mention that it takes away their advantage over others. It’s easy for someone who has the right to marry the person they love to tell others they shouldn’t have the same right. No skin off their back. They should be allowed to shove their religion down our throats but atheists should just keep their lack of beliefs to themselves. It’s ok for women to be paid less than men for the same job. They just have a job for fun anyway, right?
Being young doesn’t make you ignorant. A thirty-year old can do just as good a job as an MP as a sixty-year old. It’s possibly they could even be better. Someone younger would probably be more adaptable to change and more willing to adopt new policies. Things would probably move faster in government. I could also be wrong. The thing is, we can’t know for sure until we try. We have to be better about supporting candidates that are not the usual suspects. Then we have to ignore the millions of dollars worth of propaganda that will urge us to support the old white guy. I think we can do it. I think we should do it. it might just make the old white guys shut up and listen to us for a change.