Opposition Pieces, September 2016

The Youth Demographic and Power


Try to picture this: we are living in 1950 and there is an eighteen-year-old kid starting up their own company, initiating business deals, and already being the leader of what one normally recognizes as a “startup enterprise”. In addition, this individual is actually an employee of Parliament, casually conversing and maintaining relationships with legislators of their land. Now, in 1950, that seems ridiculously far-fetched and fantastical, right? In 2016, though, it is fairly common, and isn’t much of a reason for one to have their jaw dropped in amazement.

youthgroupwideLadies and gentlemen, fellow students, with time advancing, so too has the progression and appearance of opportunities. Adolescents are now treated by the law with less pampering, and are allocated an increasing amount of responsibilities; if not given to them, they tend to acquire them themselves. This is partly due to the increasing condensation of the global community and the heightened efficiency of skills, not to mention the barriers that are being crushed on the daily. If I couldn’t speak of anywhere in the world, I can surely attest to the fact that in Canada, over the past century, the cultural and political norms and traditions were modified, paving the way for smoother reforms and new ways of tolerance on the political stage, an aspect that transcended into other aspects of the Canadian society.

A great asset of our era: social media. Sometimes, it poses as a savior of one’s reputation, while it can also, as coined by the youngsters of our age, “destroy your will to live.” For those individuals fortunate enough to have been born in the 90s, regardless of the age difference, there seems to be a sort of technological skill-set that they possess that the generations prior to them cannot master; even if some of them do, it is usually limited to a certain basic level (I implore you, do not take this as generalization). Swift utilization of social media outlets, which are used for planning events, demonstrations, rallies, and assemblies, through direct and efficient pathways of communication between individuals, is only but a minute fraction of what this generation is capable of generating. Through such mediums rose publicity campaigns for several causes, all pertaining to the youth.

Without a doubt, all examples mentioned above, could not have been achieved fifty years ago (with a small list of exceptions), and the simple fact that it is now possible says a great deal about the audacity of this new generation.images

Yes, an opponent to this viewpoint may argue that even so, with the political power pretty much handed over to the young generation of eighteen to twenty-five-year-olds, they simply aren’t ready, and that they lack experience, seriousness, and understanding. Well, to that I say: why don’t we take into account the general knowledge embedded in their educational and social system, and draw our judgment from that? Yes, there poses to be several youngsters who aren’t necessarily “stable” when it comes to such affairs; on the other hand, the driving force and lit candle that burns in most of their minds and hearts, the desire to produce something extraordinary, is no doubt experienced on a higher plane than that of their counterparts decades ago.

Let’s come back in thirty years and revisit this question, and we’ll see if this article is in fact accurate. Till then, we’ll simply have to cope with the ever-speeding tide, because, without a doubt, no opposing force can stop their drive.


Written by MWR writer Bilal Gomdah, edited by MWR reviewer Cassandra Moschella



Young people have been consistently depicted by the media as being insensitive to, and even detached from, the political process as a whole. Young adults have repeatedly been told by older generations that they are unable to make rational judgements or adequately understand their country’s political institutions, systems, mechanisms and debates. However, this statement remains paradoxical as it relies upon the false assumption that the younger generations hold power in terms of politics and revolutions.

group of casual happy people smiling and standing isolated over a white background

First, let us define power as the ability to influence another person or group into doing something they would not otherwise do. Therefore, to say that the 25-year-old and below demographic holds real power in social and political movements would be equivalent to stating that this demographic could have a direct impact on the success or failure of any political change or revolution. That statement is simply untrue due to this particular demographic’s size in relation to the rest of the population, but especially due to their lack of resources.


A specific demographic’s ability to affect political decisions is directly correlated with its size relative to the whole population. Indeed, the more populous the demographic, the more power they hold during political events, such as protests and elections. For example, the important size of the African-American population of the United States is the main reason why presidential candidates spend so much time and money campaigning to earn their vote. However, we know that the 16 to 24-year-old demographic only accounts for around 17% of the world (we have excluded people under 16 year old since they are usually not able to participate in the political process). Consequently, in comparison with the size of other demographics, young people are not numerous enough to substantially affect any political decision or movement.



While the size of a demographic certainly affects its power, the amount of resources in terms of time and money that it possesses is also an important factor in how influential and effective that power becomes. Indeed, it should come as no surprise that lobbying requires a considerable amount of financial support to generate a favourable outcome. However, the 25-year-old and under demographic simply does not possess these kinds of financial resources, as shown by the graph above.


Thus, the 25-year-old and under demographic does not hold real power in political movements and revolutions due to its small size and lack of resources (mainly financial). While this is regrettable, it does not mean that young people do not possess power at all, since at the end of the day, even a small contribution is still a contribution.


Written by MWR writer Raymond Zuo, edited by MWR reviewer Laurence Doucet


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