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Youth in Politics; Past, Present & Future

The following is a speech delivered by Mr. Coy Millett at the 2015 Delegates Conference forum on October 12th at the BIU Hall.

Martin De Angelis is a young Argentinian
who has enormous political potential that he has sat out to refine. To take a
few words from him, “It would be a much better society if young people aspired
to be Presidents, aspired to have social and public responsibilities in order
to reinvigorate politics as a tool of change.” He has done just this and
through capitalizing on his experiences and networking he has established
himself as a credible political analyst with experience working in countries
throughout several continents. With experience in philanthropy, risk and global
risk assessment, Martin exemplifies what can come when potential is utilized.

A gunman walked onto a school bus and
after asking for a 15 year old by name, shot her with a pistol. Malala had been
advocating for the rights of girls to receive an education against an
oppressive regime. Within a year, what was intended to be a fatal event turned
into a launching pad for her to shed light on the issues of girl’s and women’s
education and rights around the world.

In 2007, taking technology that already
existed and a plan that shattered how campaigns were traditionally run, a thin
unassuming junior senator saw the potential to redefine the way a candidate ran
a campaign. A campaign that focused on a niche that had been overlooked, the
youth vote saw a turnout that greatly contributed to the winning margin that
saw President Barack Obama win the presidency.

In December 2010 a young street vendor set
himself ablaze after being unwilling to live under the authority of a corrupt
and oppressive government. This one event gained traction through posts on
YouTube and Facebook. Soon young people were seen pouring into the streets in
protest. In a month, a country less than 1,500 miles away spiraled into
protests after young people coordinated efforts to fight against a regime that
lacked the will to represent their interests. As momentum grew, so did the
protests, and within months almost 20 countries began to experience civil
unrest. Within three years we saw almost half of these governments overthrown
or replaced. The Arab Spring was an event that completely
shocked the world and illustrated the power of enlightened youth.

Social media, the internet, an increase in
international exposure and many other factors have resulted in a well versed
demographic, the youth. With the means of communication and access to
information changing, we have a generation that have spent the later part of
their lives digesting information in a way that to many is difficult to
understand.

Paired with moral consciousness, a
generation has explored alternate ways a society can communicate and share
ideas and information. A generation has found a way to rally people globally to
support a single cause and shed light on things that before were hidden,
atrocities the before went unreported, and wrong doing that more often than not
went unnoticed. The information rush for many caused a rapid development of
opinions on how we could shape our society to achieve a better life for all.

The problem with this however, was that
the voice of the youth had never been so loudly advocated and the realm of
politics that had traditionally been off limits to them did not have room for
that. Thus, we find ourselves in a position where many within a generation
become disengaged. Politics turns into no more than a Facebook post, 140
characters or a sound bite which are generally negative and often times
ignored. For those who do choose to engage, politics has still been off limits
to a large extent, with their value only present on election day.

 We have a unique opportunity in
Bermuda to engage the minds of our young intellectuals, our young thinkers, our
young engineers, our young entrepreneurs, our young artists. An opportunity for
young minds to develop and lead the shaping of politics that is based on a
truly utilitarian principle, the greatest good for the greatest number. A type
of politics that operates for the peoples benefit and operates based on fact
and sound judgment. Politics that addresses issues and facts, absent of the
rhetoric that has bred division within our community.

Mobilizing the youth of today effectively
is more than a bit of attention during the months leading up to an election.
It’s feeding information to young people in ways that represent their best
interests and providing real opportunity for their voice to be heard and their
skills, talents and expertise utilized to their fullest potential.

It’s letting them know that we understand
their plight and are working for them, and then following through on that. A
generation that prides itself on keeping things real is not at all interested
in an institution that bases itself on empty promises. 

We’re a generation that are by large
misunderstood, often overzealous and if nothing else full of passion. A
generation that has been brought up with exposure that sometimes shatters
political correctness, but when tapped into we are a generation full of potential,
a group that are ready to do what we must for our society.

We’re a lot more liberal but just as
balanced, just as loving but far more unwilling to accept the status quo.

It may take some getting used to, but if
the mold is broken, and these young minds are tapped into in a meaningful
manner, the potential that can be developed and refined is sure to put hope
back in our community. It’s sure to put hope back into our peers. It’s sure to
make a difference so that the decisions made now can properly consider those
who will have to live with their implications the longest.

For my peers, I encourage you to make
yourselves available to digest the information that will come and participate
in political discourse to advocate for a political landscape that is more in
line with what we envision for ourselves as a community. Let’s make ourselves
available to receive the wisdom from those with experience while we work
alongside them and get our own. Let’s become so committed to excellence that
our participation in politics becomes the norm because based on our skill and
ability it simply makes sense. Let’s build on the foundation that has been
built for us by our parents, grandparents and elders so that we can continue to
carry the mantle and move forward as a unified community.

Let’s rally around causes that mean
something to us so that we are contributing to the discourse at some level.

Let’s make noise until we find ourselves
with employment, education and training that properly reflect the needs of our
economy thus creating better opportunities.

Let’s look for clarification for decisions
about our national debt and finances as we will have to spend our lives
contributing to the recovery.

Let’s push to ensure that our culture is
celebrated while continuing to evolve.

We’re a generation of global thinkers,
with dreams than extend beyond traditional horizons in an age of opportunity.
When those with power embrace the thought and innovation that comes with youth,
the possibilities become infinite.

For those who feel that they are ready to
help make a difference, do it. Let’s connect and start developing our thoughts
so we can trigger the change we need. Let’s lift the restriction that has been
placed on our political involvement and establish a voice that represents the
breed of new politics that many of us believe this island wants to see. 

Let’s reach across traditional boundaries
and embrace ideas, which combined, can lead to a more balanced and stable
society. A community that operates with the best interests of all in mind,
ensuring that together we prosper.

If you will, let a fresh perspective be
considered for policy decisions, a perspective that could lead to solutions to
many of the societal, legislative and structural problems that plague us as a
community. Let us employ a new breed of thinking, that there is no problem that
cannot be solved with a bit of thought, innovation and ingenuity.

Allow a generation that has taken a
leading role in fashion, medicine, science, technology, innovation, business
and art to add politics to that list. Allow them to become exposed and factored
into equations so that our community grows from their insight. Allow them to
increase the level of political discourse in this country and present from an
angle and perspective that would otherwise go unheard and unaddressed. The
youth are one of the greatest resources provided to us as a human race.

I’d like to finish with a quote from Kofi
Annan, a Ghanaian and Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997-2006,
"Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation.
Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they
are left on society's margins, all of us will be improvised. Let us ensure that
all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of
their societies."
 

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