Editorial: The voter’s index-A A +A
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
HE stood in front of a polling precinct, his message written on a large sign he wore, like a doomsday warning. While citizens his age stayed quiet on the subject, at least on social media’s incessant channels, Danilo Uy, according to a report by Kevin A. Lagunda, spoke his mind on last Monday’s barangay elections, and how.
His sign said that a paid vote might as well stand for slavery and suicide.
Elsewhere, however, the youth was largely absent from the barangay elections. The postponement of their own elections probably dampened their enthusiasm for the Oct. 28 exercise. Why participate in something one is not empowered to join or change?
And yet, it would be unfair to see the youth’s lack of involvement in the barangay elections as a sign of general indifference to public affairs. What about the hundreds of young people who spent their time and energy volunteering for civic errands like helping earthquake survivors?
It’s possible, though, that the youth finds the barangay too local, a structure built several centuries ago that no longer adequately covers 21st century problems.
Consider, too, the way the elections were conducted. Resorting to pen, paper and manual counting shortened the lines voters had to endure, but it felt archaic. Imagine how outdated it must have seemed to our millennials, for whom communicating has become an act rarely committed without a touch screen.
Yes, the barangay remains necessary: its officials ensure the security and cleanliness of our communities, and in the event of a disaster, provide an otherwise remote government’s most immediate answers.
But the priorities of our barangay officials, if not the way in which they are elected, need updating, if they are to have any chance of gaining younger constituents’ support.
Danilo Uy, 29, risked ridicule to get his anti-corruption message across, and he was right. How can older leaders hope to win a more idealistic constituency’s backing, when the ideas they stand for and the tactics many use to get elected remind the young of the political ills they wish to avoid?
Young citizens are capable of more than just sharing photographs of their ink-stained index fingers. But first, older leaders must learn to listen and empower them.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 30, 2013.