Premier pitches to ‘woke’ youth

Vancouver Sun - - CITY - NICK EAGLAND With files from Rob Shaw neagland@post­media.com

Whether or not “woke” Bri­tish Columbians are ac­tu­ally dis­cussing whether “pro rep is lit,” Premier John Hor­gan’s quip dur­ing Thurs­day ’s tele­vised de­bate on elec­toral re­form got peo­ple talk­ing.

About 21 min­utes into the broad­cast by CBC and Global News, B.C. Lib­eral Leader An­drew Wilkin­son and Hor­gan were fed a ques­tion from a voter in their 30s con­cerned about low po­lit­i­cal en­gage­ment in their gen­er­a­tion, and won­der­ing whether it was time to test a new po­lit­i­cal sys­tem of pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

“Young peo­ple like the idea of work­ing to­gether,” Hor­gan said at the end of his re­sponse. “If you were woke, you’d know that pro rep is lit.”

Mo­ments later, the B.C. NDP pounced on Twit­ter with an ’80sthemed meme bear­ing the same slo­gan. Else­where on so­cial me­dia came a col­lec­tive groan, which sug­gested Hor­gan had ven­tured from well-trod­den dad-joke ter­ri­tory into a cringe­wor­thy at­tempt at lur­ing B.C.’s younger vot­ers to­ward his pre­ferred elec­toral sys­tem.

“Woke” can mean be­ing po­lit­i­cally con­scious. Specif­i­cally, it has roots in the civil rights move­ment of the 1960s, and resurged in 2008 with a lyric in a song by R&B star Erykah Badu be­fore gain­ing more trac­tion with the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment, ac­cord­ing to an Ox­ford Dic­tio­nar­ies blog post.

“Lit” has long re­ferred to be­ing ex­tremely drunk or high. But over the past decade, through rap mu­sic, it has come to mean that some­thing is ex­cel­lent or ex­cit­ing, ac­cord­ing to a blog post by Mer­riam-Web­ster.

In re­cent years, how­ever, both words have been co-opted and stripped of some of that mean­ing for in­ter­net slang, of­ten used by younger peo­ple to gen­er­ate a laugh.

Af­ter the de­bate, Hor­gan told jour­nal­ists it was sim­ply an off-the­cuff re­mark based on some­thing he heard on a TV show. But he was also us­ing the slo­gan of a Vote PR B.C. off­shoot launched last month on 10 univer­sity and col­lege cam­puses.

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