The tremors of Joseph Muscat’s earthquake have yet to be felt here in Luxembourg so until now we have to make do with the faint rumblings that are occasionally reported. To be honest the rumblings are more akin to those of a minor stomach upset than something that would register a substantial mark on the Mercalli scale. In today’s column for example Joseph comes up with the “progressive” proposal of lowering the voting age to 16 instead of 18.
To begin with, this fixation on the word “progressive” is beginning to get on my nerves. The word is about as cool and marketable as the Malta Labour Party Bord tad-Dixxiplina with their long beards, shorts and sandals. It is a throwback to the marxist, commie talk of the “progressive” students at University (who were probably much more serious about the whole affair). I know, it sounds horrible coming from a tolerant liberal like myself, but he wording of texts in “Zminijietna” style statements is as horribly anachronistic as some extreme Catholic-democratic ideology that still circulates in Malta. It sounds worse when the words are used seriously by the leader of the second largest party in Malta and not by some minority of extremist loonies.
The irony of it all is that this “progressive” move is all about integrating the youff (youth – with stupid phonetics, please note Vlad – and “woddz” sounds bloody well like what they say). Joseph, the young Turk who wrestled 1/1000th of the relevant posts at the helm of New Labour from the Old Guard is now projecting his dream onto others. “Yes you can!” – and we will kick off with the Local Councils.
But would this be change for change’s sake? No. It would be change with a clear aim of strengthening our democracy. More young people would take an interest and become involved in decision-making and this would help change the somewhat lethargic policy-making in our country. Politicians would have to face up to new challenges and become more accountable when faced with a new media-savvy, demanding and enterprising electorate.
Joseph’s words of course. Media-savvy? Cue Bocca in the comments section and the media savviness is relegated to MTV. MTV? And the dance begins. Slowly but carefully I can see us descending into a Xarabank like spiral of labels and stereotypes. We should be talking about the electorate’s political mindset in general and instead Joseph pins his hopes for reinvigoration on asking the youth to come up with some sort of magic formula. I can’t wait to see Daphne rip this idea to shreds – heaven help the unmarried youth who is so far from being a mature 40 year old who has seen it all from his little corner of the island.
Of course there are arguments in favour of 16 year olds being allowed to vote and contest for political posts. If it’s good for the Philippines and Cuba then surely it is good for Malta isn’t it? All this navel-gazing smacks of the political pre-season. Gently getting back into full MLPN mode by prodding the old mindset with a cliche-laden argument in mid-August. Bollocks to that.
The J’accuse antidote goes beyond age group classifications. Because if we are to start talking about vote-worthiness how about an aptitude test then? How about banning anyone who openly displays partisan tendencies and is unable to reason objectively. I am sure we could come up with a scientific test. Let’s see: Do you own or have you in the past five years owned a flag of a political party? Have you in the past five years waved aforementioned flag (or other marketing memorabilia) during a political meeting? If you answer yes to both then you are banned from voting for the next five years.
Joking apart, I have seen what “new youth” means in the political eyes. It’s those lackeys who prepare to slither up the party ladder bereft of any ideology and loaded with misconceptions and prejudices about “the other side”. They are there filling in quotas for the youth, gender and whatsnot, strutting around in their ill-fitting suits and mimicking the noises of their elders. Joseph’s proposal would only serve to appease these future politicians of the MLPN mold. That’s because MLPN have done a good enough job to instil the disgust of all things political into right thinking, normal 16 year olds. Let them have Paceville and MTV so long as this is the reality I say.
Of course (as I said earlier) there are real arguments in favour of lowering the age of political participation. Only the current political scene and the potential disaster that it entails with regards to political formation make this reality a hard one to achieve healthily. It’s a catch-22, Joseph. We’re still waiting for the earthquake, the political revolution or even for a sign of a little crack in the MLPN way of feeding politics to the masses. Until then, thanks, but no thanks, we’d rather watch Hot Chip’s latest video and get Ready for the Floor.
Addendum: J’accuse is probably back from the aestivation. Thanks for all the wishes of good health and what not… should be back at work tomorrow. Meanwhile enjoy the return of Vlad to blogging bliss. Let’s hope his pen does not dry up too fast this time round.