Voters wait to cast their midterm election ballots at the Cross Cultural Center in Irvine, California on November 6, 2018. Picture: REUTERS/Kyle Grillot
Voters wait to cast their midterm election ballots at the Cross Cultural Center in Irvine, California on November 6, 2018. Picture: REUTERS/Kyle Grillot

George Bernard Shaw was once asked: "What is the most beautiful thing in the world?" Answer: "Youth — and what a pity it is wasted on the young." Yet, after being dormant politically for decades, young people are starting to make their presence felt again.

Compared with the boomer generation, young people in developed countries have been politically apathetic over the past decade. An example is the Brexit referendum, where the youth voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, by 75% to 25%. The only problem was the turnout among the youth was 36% — yet 90% of those older than 65% voted. Had more young people voted, the result would have been different.

In the 2016 US presidential elections won by Donald Trump, voters between 18 and 29 were skewed heavily in favour of his opponent Hillary Clinton. But turnout among the youth was abominably low.

The good news is that this is changing. The US midterm election results had not been tallied by the time of going to press, but it is clear the youth were more influential. Young people, turned off by the gamesmanship of politicians, have been more dismissive of politics than the boomer generation. But the consequences of being politically aloof have hit them, so it’s refreshing to see the attitude change. Youth might be wasted on the young, but increasingly the future is not.

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