The youth are getting restless. Youth means change. The youth are running wild in the streets …
When we’re young, it’s time to rebel. Rebel against our parents, our teachers and society as a whole. Wild times full of lust, passion and the desire for change, which can be good or bad, depending on history’s flow. Youth cultural helped bring an end to the Vietnam War, yet the under-30-crowd in China, comprising Mao’s Red Guards, did horrible things to fellow human beings during the upheaval known as the Cultural Revolution. Idealism gone astray, as it were.
If young people are the engine of change (positive and negative), and young people are disappearing in the West in relation to ever-increasing graying populations, what does that mean for change?
According to a recent article in The Atlantic, it could mean that as the average age median continues to rise (it will), older people will stay entrenched in key political positions (blocking younger whippersnappers from power) and fervently protect — or as with much passion as their arthritic bones can muster — the status quo. With people 60 and older set to make up a quarter of the population by 2050, all of those old fogies (by 2050, I’ll be one, too) will have had plenty of time to accumulate power — and rig the political game in their favor.
Makes sense, when you think about it. Who better to defend what you want than you? And trust me, the old you will definitely take a very different view of the world than the younger you.
Problem is, if youth rebel and react instead of vote, they’ll always be one step behind in a democracy. Occupy Wall Street was a great movement fueled by passion, but at the end of the day, it didn’t get much done. Wouldn’t it have been better to be engaged in the political process all along, organizing against and voting out politicians who were in favor of massive financial deregulations? Not as glamorous or fun as sleeping out in tents in Manhattan, but probably more effective over time.
Apathy, when it comes to voting, is a problem with young people, and people with more liberal leanings in general. Perhaps, as an antidote to apathy, we should introduce our children to the political process while they’re still very young and warn them that if they don’t vote, and vote wisely when they come of age, Grandpa (or Great Grandpa) will be running their lives until they’re old themselves.
Maybe the fear of a life-long AARP meeting and the hellish nightmare scenario of never-ending cheek pinching and decades of “When I was your age …” lectures could instill enough fear (a strong motivational force) in young people to get them to actually vote. Otherwise, if we leave ruling to the old and rebelling on a diminishing scale (the numbers are against them) to the young, we could be living in a nation with laws based on the whims of a geriatric ruling elite.
Carl Pettit is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.