Ah, election season. When the names of candidates constantly pour from every media outlet like a political monsoon and no matter how strong our umbrella, we still manage to get soaked. You can hardly go anywhere without seeing a new headline about a shocking comment about a political party being made, or a ground-breaking donation so and so received. But with so much focus on the candidates, it’s easy to forget who all this is really about- us.
That’s right folks, believe it or not, the voters are the most important people in an election, and not necessarily those well-dressed people you see on the screen. Without us, where would they be? Certainly not standing on those podiums, shouting about healthcare and immigration. The truth is this; politicians are powerful because we make them powerful. The true power of the government lies within the South African people.
But that is not to undermine the figure of the politician. Politician has become a nasty word, one correlated with treachery and dishonesty. And while unfortunately, in many cases, these attributes are accurate, they stray from what being a politician should truly mean. Being a politician is about becoming a voice for your people, and actively working to make your peoples’ voices heard. At the same time, you must be willing to work with others who are different from you in order to better your society. The South African people must elect politicians who represent the progress they would like to see, and progress that everyone agrees needs to be made.
So why do so few people vote? Or, more specifically, why do so few young people vote? Young adults have consistently been the lowest demographic to turn out at the polls, when the policies that they are standing idly by on, are the ones that will affect their lives the most. Over the past decade or so there have been many social campaigns to try to encourage young adults to vote, yet the interest from young people still appears to be low.
As more people begin to realize the importance of voting, hopefully the tide will turn in the coming election and the consistently lowest demographic may not be as low. It’s time for the young adults of the country to realize that it’s their civic duty to try to make their country the best it can be, and in order to do that they need to elect the officials that represent their ideal progress. When young adults stand by in the voting process, they essentially give up on their chance to change their world politically (unless that’s a career path they’re pursuing). The policies that the youth seem not to care about are the ones that will be affecting them the most. During a period in their lives when people are constantly asking them to look towards the future, it’s time for young adults to do just that, and cast the ballots that bring about the change that they so want to see.