A wor­ry­ing trend Ru­ral Ram­blings

The McLeod River Post - - Points Of View - Post Staff

The last few of our chil­dren are at school now. It’s been a long jour­ney but a cou­ple of years and they’ll all have left and fledged or very close to it. I asked them the other day if their class mates knew what was go­ing on in the world, the coun­try, the county, the near­est town even. The an­swer that I got was dis­ap­point­ing and frankly alarm­ing. Mostly, “Not a clue dad,” they said. There were ap­par­ently a few ex­cep­tions but by and large, de­spite spend­ing a good deal of their time on their phones not only did they not know what was go­ing on, they didn’t seem to be in­ter­ested ei­ther. The same could pos­si­bly be said of some of their par­ents.

In a few years these teenagers are go­ing to be out in the world and able to vote. Will they vote? Maybe, but I doubt it. Voter turnout in the un­der 24-year-old bracket is ap­pallingly low in Canada. With the 2015 fed­eral elec­tion kind of buck­ing the trend and hit­ting around 57 per cent.

Low voter turnout is not good for democ­racy and if younger peo­ple can’t be mo­ti­vated to vote then the sta­tus quo holds power, or it is eas­ier for a pop­ulist to seize power or an in­cum­bent to keep hold of it. We’re seen plenty of that re­cently.

With all the com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vices that we have with us some of our younger gen­er­a­tions never watch the news and never read a news­pa­per re­ly­ing in­stead on du­bi­ously sourced news­feeds and shares.

Pol­i­tics at all lev­els can be bor­ing but what hap­pens in cham­bers and parliaments af­fects us all. Nei­ther do politi­cians do them­selves any favours in the way that some of them be­have and con­duct them­selves. Some of them set very poor ex­am­ples, rude­ness, bul­ly­ing, cor­rup­tion and some­times I think very lit­tle re­gard or care for the peo­ple that they rep­re­sent. Oth­ers, I have to say con­duct them­selves very well and set good ex­am­ples. How­ever, it only takes one rot­ten ap­ple to spoil a bar­rel.

For our chil­dren. I think it is up to the schools and par­ents to get them mo­ti­vated and ed­u­cated to the world around them. Maybe lessons on the news. Learn what is out there, how it is pre­sented, the bal­anced and the un­bal­anced the fake and the real. Maybe stu­dents can take their knowl­edge home and get their par­ents in­volved? Per­haps good lead­ers will emerge be­cause of it? I hope so.

Here’s a wild idea. Re­strict phone ac­cess dur­ing class time. Even block phone ac­cess if stu­dents won’t vol­un­tar­ily do it. Any ur­gent mes­sages can come in via the front desk. Maybe a school could pro­duce its own stu­dent news­let­ter or news­pa­per, dig­i­tal would do it. Very lit­tle cost in­volved. It’s been said be­fore, but I’ll echo the words, “Low voter turnout pro­duces bad gov­ern­ment,” wrote Michael Craw­ford Ur­ban for The Na­tional Post.

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