|Brexit vote statistics|
After reading an article in Red Pepper about the Momentum Kids idea to launch child care facilities at political events I thought about how young people are excluded from politics. The idea was to enable parents to attend the events and to give the children the space to explore ideas and views in politics. The idea faced a huge backlash online with people comparing it to the Hitler Youth.The term 'brainwashing' was used to describe Momentum Kids and it reminded me of a lot of the challenges that I have faced in being involved in politics. It was only through the child care at Lib Dem conferences that my mother and I were able to attend and my interest in politics grew. In 2010 I began to blog and write more about my opinions and when I wrote for Lib Dem Voice about my perspective on the elections I first received negative comments that made me think about how my age would affect my understanding and involvement in politics. Several people left comments criticizing what I had written and claiming that they thought my parents wrote it for me or had heavily influenced my opinions. Whilst this can be understood because I was only 10 years old it is this kind of attitude that is so abundant in the political world that prevents young people from showing long term interest.
Young people are continually mocked for showing any interest in politics. Teenagers are political and I see it in my everyday life when my friends discuss politics and take an active interest in current affairs and on twitter when young people were so outraged by the Brexit vote and by Donald Trump's election. Their interest is curbed by the stigma surrounding young people in politics, their inability to affect change and the lack of education provided for them. This stigma is something that I have seen first hand with countless people telling me that I shouldn't worry about politics and that I am too young to understand the issues, similarly I see young people with valid opinions dismissed on social media constantly just because of their age. There is also this vicious cycle of my generation not being provided with any education or access to basic explanations on political issues but being side lined from political discussion as a result. The political jargon of discussion is off putting and inaccessible.
In addition to this young people just can't influence electoral change. I was devastated at the election of Trump and the Brexit vote. I took to twitter to see the reaction of young people. I found that many of them had voted for Hillary and to remain in the EU. When i examined the statistics I found that 55% of 18-29 year olds in America voted for Hillary and 65% in the UK had voted to stay. I understand that voter turnout among younger age groups is low and therefore our influence is lesser but when it comes to such profound decisions that primarily affect the future of my generation I cannot comprehend how little sway we have. Even when young people show an interest in politics and turn out to vote they just don't have the influence that they should as the future generation. Trumps election and Brexit were two hugely negative outcomes that will have awful ramifications for my generation and their future.
This doesn't just apply to teenagers but also younger age groups. The backlash that Momentum Kids faced really shocked me and just showed how young people are prevented from any engagement in political issues. It may be the case that pre-teens and children are uninterested in politics but if they are at least given the opportunity to remove the stigma around their involvement and become educated on the issues then maybe young people will be able to influence decisions that have such far-reaching consequences for them. Don't remove opportunities for my generation to engage with politics and then claim that we are disillusioned with politics.
As for what young people can do now it is so important to use social media. Twitter has enabled us to voice our opinions and collectively understand politics. It is something that has lessened disillusionment with the political world and enabled further influence. I saw this with the Scottish election where 16 and 17 year olds voice was so large on social media that the press were forced to pay attention to them and a debate was even hosted on TV specifically for this age group. If this carries on and the opposition to Trump, movements like Black Lives Matter and the DAPL protest are communicated about online my generation's influence will grow and next time there is a Donald Trump or a Brexit we will not let it happen.
Momentum kids is also being maligned because it's a left wing organisation. These kids aren't Tiny Trots but are possible politicians of the future who will help spread the message of left wing politics. Here are some more articles on Momentum kids.