The Young Politicos: I Want Something New

March 27th, 2018

I have been thinking quite a bit about youth and politics, lately. As a former member of a youth arm in the UK (the Young Liberals) while I was at high school, I am uninspired by our young politicos. They are all lovely, bright people, but they are hardly thinking “outside the box.” In fact, they seem sometimes rather cautious and guarded in their statements, as if their elder “tribespeople” are looking over their shoulders. At other times, they blurt out some completely biased and partisan comment, and I groan inwardly.

That is part of the problem. The young politicians, wannabe politicians, political commentators, or whatever the media now likes to call them, are so hamstrung by their party affiliations that they have often been accused of being “clones” of their elders. I believe there is some truth in this, although I would say so reluctantly. There are a few individuals who, empowered by their party residing in power, are energised and doing very good work on the ground. Their party is the ruling party. How would they do in Opposition? I am not so sure.

Eleven-year-old Naomi Wadler made a speech about those young people whose plight has been ignored - in her case, young black women who are victims of violence. Why aren't more of our young politicos addressing the issues of the poor and disenfranchised?

Eleven-year-old Naomi Wadler made a speech about those young people whose plight has been ignored – in her case, young black women who are victims of violence. Why aren’t more of our young politicos addressing the issues of the poor and disenfranchised?

I know that comparisons like this may not be welcome, but when I watch an eleven-year-old African American girl speaking at the weekend’s demonstrations by young people – mainly high school students – I wonder where the political energy is among our own young people. I could name many youth in civil society from different backgrounds who are really taking a bold stance, out on their own – on volunteerism, human rights, social entrepreneurship, and more. These are the young leaders.

I write about these energetic and dedicated youth often, and I totally applaud them. However, they are on the outside, seeking to influence. Perhaps that is the way to go – work from the outside in. Would I recommend to them that they go into politics? I am ambivalent. Support a political party? Of course. Participate in our democracy? Yes, of course. In any case, these admirable young people’s involvement in civil society activities is in itself participation. Go into politics? Well… let’s face it. Politics, in Jamaica, has a stifling effect.

Emma Gonzalez is charismatic and fearless. Yes, she has a big and serious cause to fight. However, there are many big and serious causes in Jamaica, too.

Emma Gonzalez is charismatic and fearless. Yes, she has a big and serious cause to fight. However, there are many big and serious causes in Jamaica, too.

Young politicians must have their young generation’s concerns at heart.

I have been listening to three “under 35″ commentators on radio, discussing this week’s Cabinet reshuffle. Their comments are astute and sensible, but not earth-shattering. What about the so-called “youth perspective?” What is this Cabinet going to do to improve the plight of so many unemployed youth?  They sounded like their older counterparts – articulate “political pundits.” They all agreed on the need for more accountability from politicians and the new Ministers in particular. Fine, as far as it goes.

But hold on – one of the three young commentators even appeared to say, in passing, that her youth arm was not exclusively concerned with what “the man on the street” says or understands. I may have misheard. The discussion was all about job descriptions and “KPIs.” Yes, I am pretty sure the man/woman on the street would not relate to that.

Perhaps some of our young politicos need to spend some time studying or living abroad, and broaden their horizons. Or get inspired by 18-year-old Emma González.

Come on. Let’s hear something new, please. Let’s talk about real issues, for future generations, and for the marginalised too.

 

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One Response to “The Young Politicos: I Want Something New”

  1. […] woman, with a public relations background, which will be useful. Kudos, Krystal! As I noted in a recent blog post, young political people must have their own generation’s interests at heart. They sounded too […]