while in public opinion it often seems to be treated as a synonym, political engagement is not the same as voting. the electoral process is just one way to engage in a political system. to be exact, it is the most common way, next to active participation in the political process or in opposition to it, to influence what is called a representative democracy.
but let’s be honest – the trust in those people voted to represent “our” voices is decreasing. a combination of the assimilation of party programs that makes our “choices” seem like a grey mix of contradicting promises rather than actual colorful perspectives to chose from, and the growing believe that no matter who is voted into position will work for the own benefits, is increasing the icy climate of what was once called “trust” and “respect” and “integrity” – in one word: “representation”. but the issue of the colorful banners during elections being the only color left in politics is another issue.
let’s just conclude that trust in the form of representative democracy we’ve been observing over the past view years is decreasing. so, what’s the clever solution of people in office being desperate about their voters and their legitimacy flying out of the window? – bring young people into the process! let them vote!
while i am a big supporter of the initial idea, i find myself slapping my hand against my forehead thinking about the method that was suggested to make young adults to be politically engaged. let them vote? – the ones coming up with this idea, are obviously the ones already involved in the political process. this is the only way for me to comprehend the naiveté to believe that the opportunity to vote would encourage people to engage politically.
no one needs another two years taken away to be part of a system they don’t want to be a part of. what is actually needed is an understanding. people need to see, what it politics IS. they need to comprehend, what politics DOES, or CAN do. and they need to feel what it means to be part of a democracy. because, let’s face it, so far all people hear from media coverage is “politicians steal money”, “no matter who i vote, nothing changes” and “i will give you a cookie if you do not stand in the way of our bureaucratic deafness we enjoy so greatly”.
we do not need people to be able to vote with 16. let them be children for a while. allow them to have some time to not make decisions already. they will have enough chances to vote in their lives. rather, teach them not what, but how to think. teach them to be skeptical. teach them to be critical. teach them to question and teach them to say no. teach them what it means to live in a democracy; it’s not about our institutions, it’s not about voting – it is about living somewhere were we can voice our opinion. and voting is just one part of it.