The Pain of Being a Twenty-Something Voter

Election time really is the best time.

Shout out to Duncan the working class hero/thug depending on what side of the media field you choose to play. Shout out to Bill Shorten for copping shit about everything from his man-boobs to his asylum seeker policies, and of course to Richard Di Natale for falling off his high horse.  And of course to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for solving youth unemployment with a possibly illegal youth exploitation program – and candidate for most vom-worthy acronym in Australian political history – ‘PaTH’. Short for ‘Prepare, Trial, Hire.’ Yeah, awful.  

I always find election time a bit of an ideological tug of war between how we want the world to be for others, and what will benefit us as individuals. After all, us twenty somethings are really just trying to pick the party least likely to screw our future up.

Young people are ideologically burnt out…. We know we’re voting to keep the worst party out, not necessarily to get the best party in.

As the daughter of a teacher, a public school student, an arts graduate, an aspiring business owner and someone who works in the private sector, deciding who to vote for is doing my head in. As 55% of people are swinging voters, I’m guessing it’s doing some of your heads in too.

As we watch our HECS debt come out of our paychecks and internally scream at the amount we get taxed on top, we can all agree that the ‘where is my money going?’ rhetoric becomes a little more relevant to us.

Begs the question, who are we meant to be voting for?

In an economy where a bulk of jobs for young people will be created by themselves through start ups, you’ve got to give it to the Liberals for wanting to foster a Silicon Valley-esque start up culture with their Innovation and Science Agenda. It’s not like the government’s got thousands of graduate jobs for us, and even those who interned passionately at NGOs in their uni days end up working in advertising. So it’s as good an idea as any to kickstart the “ideas boom”.

Yet let’s be blunt, the Liberals remind most young people of Mr Burns-looking old white guys in suits, and along with their mate Rupert, the Liberals are not the poster boys for progressiveness. Browsing the LNP’s website, they actually have ‘defence’ and ‘border protection’ as prominent policies. Images of toothless bogans with mullets wearing ‘we grew here you flew here’ wife beaters come to mind, and in an age where Waleed Aly is our champion, everyone knows that’s not how most young people like to roll.

And hardly a peep out of them regarding climate change while there are whole islands going underwater (Tuvalu, anyone?). Do we really have to ‘incentivize’ businesses to reduce their gas emissions? Can’t we just tell them to cut it the hell out already?  

What they (the Greens) are selling is an ideal version of our country, one that is so much more attractive to the average young person.

Labor are the go to for those who are passionate about public education, value Medicare, catch the train to work, aren’t raging homophobes and genuinely don’t believe in screwing over the less fortunate (or, let’s be real, the 99%). However, a lot of us aren’t in school or uni anymore to instantly benefit from those education policies, and lots of people are a little skeptical of $500 million in ‘assistance’ to asylum seekers. There’s plenty of assistance needed for other communities already struggling at home and if we can’t get that right who is to say we can get an influx of resettled asylum seekers right?  

You could always vote for the Greens who are so far left they almost go right.

Equality for everyone, protecting our environment, the arts and going after big business are things the Greens champion. I find it hard to remember any vaguely plausible economic policies they have put forward, but I digress. What they are selling is an ideal version of our country, one that is so much more attractive to the average young person than ‘go ask your parents to buy you a house’, ‘it’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve’ and ‘work for below minimum wage because the economy doesn’t have any jobs for you’.

And hey, if you like drugs, adult entertainers and commercially backed sexual liberation you could always vote for The Australian Sex Party.

Young people are ideologically burnt out, and unlike those before us we have been brought up in the information economy. Unlike our parents, we know music festivals in Africa don’t solve poverty, we know multicultural day at school doesn’t solve racism, and that while acknowledging we are on Aboriginal land is a more than necessary respect, it doesn’t mean life will get any easier for the traditional owners of this land.

We know we’re voting to keep the worst party out, not necessarily to get the best party in and so we have no choice but to go forth and try to navigate the mess generations before have left us with.

Happy voting, kids.

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