Voter Apathy // Lack of Empathy?

By
28 April 2016

apathy // APATHY

Noun     /ˈæp.ə.θi/  A-path-ee

Behaviour that shows no interest or energy and shows that someone is unwilling to take action, especially over something important:

Widespread apathy among students

Voter apathy

source

That up there, is the Cambridge Dictionary definition of Apathy, something pretty much almost every single human being on the planet has either felt or definitely had some experience with it. If you scan across any news website, there will be at least one article and a fair few opinion pieces talking about voter apathy within the UK; roughly about a third of the people in the country don’t care about who won the election last year, and they probably don’t give one about the EU Referendum. There has been a dramatic drop in the number of voters within the UK, many have claimed it is the apathy of the younger generation; us Gen X, Y and Millenials.

It is known that young people are less likely to vote, particularly after Russel Brand was ranting all last year in the lead up to the General Election, ‘Don’t bother, rebel, blah, blah, blah.’ To then turn around, almost very last minute, and tell voters to place their ‘X’ in the Labour box, and then interviewing Ed Miliband (then leader of Labour) being all chummy in Russel’s flat.According to the British Election Study, the accurate numbers of registered 18-24-year-olds

who turned up to cast their ballot, was SIGNIFICANTLY below every other age group since the 70’s. THE 70s GUYS. Why is this happening? And why is it not being addressed?

As young people, we are less likely to be on the electoral register than any other age groups in the UK, analysists have suggested that young British adults are possibly the least engaged with Politics in comparison with our good pals in Europe, just look at Iceland and France. Our pals set a standard to which we should all be at in terms of engagement, it is simply not acceptable to have the mindset of ‘but it doesn’t affect me anyway, like directly, so no, not for me.’ There are plenty of reasons as to why Politics do affect people, and it’s time that we all educate ourselves.

There are many problems as to why we are being outvoted by other age groups, for one, we have an ageing population, the proportion of people over 65 has grown by 2% between 1987 and 2010; these people are more likely to vote, and often tend to opt for more conservative, ‘right-wing‘ parties, which has led us to this point now. The Conservative party won the General Election last year, however, they only amounted to 34% of the vote, when there are a whopping 7.5million+ people who didn’t even bother to register to vote. This could technically mean that policies will now be catered to older people, meaning that younger people tend to suffer; rise of tuition fees is a prime example of this, and even reports showing that ‘under 35s are to become permanent renters‘ in the UK. The older generation tend to benefit from policies in the past few years; keeping free bus passes, free TV licences for over 75s, whereas we as the young’uns are struggling to find jobs, homes, and even repay our student debt.

Most people would agree with saying that they are ‘disenchanted’ by politics; meaning young people DO have an opinion on Politics nonetheless, just under 44% of young people would say they are fairly interested in politics. A lot of people also see politicians as frauds and liars; trust with the UK government has never been lower, particularly in recent months, with the Panama Papers leak, and £9million being spent on leaflets educating the masses on the EU, (even though the government said that it would stay neutral throughout the Referendum process.)

As a political commentator, I myself, feel I cannot trust politicians with my cat. From watching countless Question Time, Prime Minister’s Questions, and generally THE NEWS, I gathered, politicians are professional question-avoiders, and boy are they good at it. It is more the question of why we are apathetic, when people express anger regarding politics, and others say they are bored; it is in the air as whether the general public do view politicians as ‘frauds’ and ‘liars’, but the general gist of it all, a collective opinion tends to be very negative.

This voter apathy within the younger generations of the UK tends to come down to the lack of information that is pushing further disengagement. However, the problem contradicts itself; ‘the more you preach, the more it puts people off,’ it is extremely difficult to try and encourage engagement with politics, but how can this happen when we do not have the full knowledge of how to understand politics in the first place?

Studies have shown that the current political system we have in the UK is simply unappealing, and the media does not help with this problem. For example take  immigration; the majority of young people I know, are not fussed about the issue, but a lot of comments I recieved say that ‘the newspapers portray it as the worst thing ever.’ We all know this not to be so true. Another PRIME example; tuition fees in the UK; young people have already been knocked down by the system before entering the working world; especially emotions of betrayal keep floating around since poor Nick Clegg had to break his promise.

I personally do not see EVERYONE as apathetic; you can still be ‘political’ in other ways, through feminism, LGBT rights and civil rights. You might be environmentally and eco-friendly, all these are to make a difference; we now have online petitions, (this is how far we have come in the past 20 years!) however, it brings in the question whether these petitions actually make a difference, or if they just highlight more happenings or problems and in turn, still make people look the other way.

Is it specifically the UK, or are we as a society/race/species lacking empathy?

empathy // EMPATHY

Noun /ˈem.pə.θi/

The ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation.

source

Numerous studies have been conducted trying to correlate lack of empathy with voter apathy. Are we a country full of narcissists? Potentially yes. However, that is to general to say all. Narcissists lack empathy: they are unwilling to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others; you can already picture several politicians when reading this, with Junior Doctor strikes especially.

The underlying problem of voter apathy, is that we have come to a stand still of even TRYING to empathise with other people. Imagine being a junior doctor, you have 10 years medical experience, you are overworked, you make life and death decisions, you manage teams of other doctors, you want to care for your patients, and do your best, their health and life are in your hands. Literally. Now imagine, being proposed a new contract that is not going to make anything better for you, or your patients, or for the NHS itself. Continue to imagine waiting up at the crack of dawn to go down to the Houses of Parliament, and hold your picket up with a lude, angry statement on it, you’re in your scrubs, you are with 1000s of others, fighting for what is the HEALTH OF THE UK. Then imagine, having to go back to the hospital to attend your 26 hour shift, sleeping when you can. REPEAT.

Junior Doctors are being smeared as radicals by the media, when we forget what doctors are. They dedicate their lives to helping others; the media flipping this on its head, enforces the lack of empathy to empathise with junior doctors. It is not just us as a mass population lacking empathy, it is the media that is encouraging it.

The same goes with regards to the crisis in Syria, and the refugees that are fleeing to Europe. Imagine being a young Syrian woman; your home has been obliterated, your school or place of work is no longer physically there, you don’t know how many of your friends are alive. You are on the run from extremists and radicals who proclaim false teachings under ‘God,’ they make you lose faith. You are sold off as a ‘wife’ (sex slave to be passed around, once the man has had his fill of you), raped, beaten and tortured, until your ‘husband’ is bored of you, he puts you back on the market. Repeat. Even if you were lucky enough to escape these horrors, you have no home, you’re fleeing the atrocities you have witnessed, you escape with a handful of belongings after watching your father and brothers’ brutal murders. You nab a spot on a dingy boat attempting to cross the water in hopes to reach new land like Greece or Turkey. You have a route planned to make your way further into Europe, the doors are shutting. You remain in Calais, the shanty is a dream in comparison to what you have fled. You are branded a migrant by the media, you are nothing but a number, and nobody cares, nobody wants you.

The media has a big part in playing with the game of empathy, and it is not helping anyone or anything. It is time for young generations of people to start thinking differently, acknowledge that we are lucky enough to live in a democracy, and do the only thing we should be doing to get our say; ACTUALLY VOTING. You can look at the state of our government from the past few years; we have way to many ‘budget’ reallignments (George Osborne and his spanking red briefcase), our NHS is in crisis mode, our gov ignores environmental problems, fracking is continuing, we have some of the highest tuition fees in all of the world (Ivy League is beating us. IVY LEAGUE.), a housing problem regarding young people, and homelessness almost doubled in the past 2 years. These are the facts, they are not from the media smearing certain topics to encourage you not to empathise with these problems, this what has been happening. It baffles me how people can continue to ignore

These are the facts, they are not from the media smearing certain topics to encourage you not to empathise with these problems, this what has been happening. It baffles me how people can continue to ignore it, when put simply and in black and white, it is what it needs to be.

It is time that we no longer shrug these HUGE problems off; it is time to take a stand and do what is right. How are we ever going to get to becoming highly-evolved beings if we stay divided and un-empathetic and uncaring? We all don’t want to turn into the human beings from Wall-E, but if you actually take a look around you, that is the route us as a species is being directed to. For these things not to happen, we need to look after our planet, our country, our society, and our people.

There is a link for two accomponying podcasts that you can listen to, if you want to hear myself and Alex Thompson ramble on these matters. The podcasts are designed to be short’n’sweet, simply put, and encouraging you guys to start a discussion yourself. Even if it is amongst your friends, it is teh first step to becoming educated in all things politics; Politics Matter is designed for you to inform, educate and engage, putting politics in Black and White for you. 

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