At every level of society, citizens interact with and perceive their political representatives differently. With time, the presence of the government and its leaders impacts life more profoundly. Who we elect will have an effect on how we pay our taxes, handle finances and experience infrastructure.
Since the governments we elect set the course for our economy and lifestyle for half a decade (or more), it is essential to stay informed even when it may seem less than important. The structure of our government is a unique one. We can elect locally and hope that the effect resonates nationally.
Even if our sensibilities make us lean towards a certain party, we have to research, observe and notice who is making a difference locally. We have always been a nation where at the grassroot level leadership has been valued. However, what our nation should be and what it is are two separate realities.
If you asked the average teenager which actor was dating whom, they’d probably be able to tell you in a minute. Ask the same teenage who their local MLA is and they’d probably have to Google it. The fault doesn’t lie with the teenagers entirely. The news around celebrity-driven content is always marketed more aggressively. For most millennial and Gen Z audiences, their platform to take in news is digital and social. Through these channels, it is not easy to weed out accurate news from false stories.
Among the sea of blogs, tabloids and independent voices, it is very easy to present opinions as facts. News outlets across print and digital mediums that accurately fact check and present stories have to work twice as hard as tabloids and blogs to gain traction.
Which is why it becomes crucial for teenagers and other young audiences to take matters in their own hands, and look at news outlets to stay updated about their local leaders and developments.
Younger audiences that are just entering the voting group of citizens have to go out of their way to sometimes research their local representatives and find out what they are and aren’t contributing to the community.
Aside from news outlets, there are other sources that young people can turn to, in order to be more informed about the politics in their own communities. AGNI and ADR are two of many non-government organizations that work towards political awareness and stress upon the importance to vote. Registering to vote can now be done remotely from anywhere. Through the website, young people that have entered the voting legibility mark or are preparing to enter can register to vote.
The interest in voting becomes more pronounced when one can actually vote. To this end, the conversation on voter registration and participation has to run parallel to the conversation around who the local leaders are and why they deserve votes. In most communities, the only place to see leaders is on hoardings at bus stops and traffic lights. (Even though sometimes these hoardings are misused as greeting cards)
With time, a few leaders are taking to newer platforms like social media to engage with younger audiences but until more leaders find a way to connect with their younger voters, voters have to reach out and research who it is they should be voting for.