How f’ed up do the Make It 16 Campaign Leaders think politics really is? Interviewing previous co-directors Caeden Tipler and Sanat Singh, they talk about the campaign, the upcoming election, and why young people matter.
“What is Make It 16?”
Make it 16 is an organisation whose core mahi is to lower the voting age to 16. Moreover, Caeden and Sanat say it’s about engaging young people and rangatahi in democracy to make sure their voices are heard. In 2022, Make it 16 won a case at the Supreme Court proving that a voting age of 18 was unjustified age discrimination. Local councils, youth MP’s and local communities all across the spectrum of politics have been supportive of this campaign. Sanat says this is evidence to say what they’re doing must be something right.
“Politics clearly at the present moment isn’t supporting young people and providing spaces for them…why do you think it is so crucial and fundamental that they are ABLE to vote?”
There are many ways to engage, but none comes as close to the influence of politics as voting does. Why should young people vote? The same reasons as why everyone else should be able to. The two say that to have an informed democracy we need to be seeing all perspectives on the table. Decisions we make now are needed or we will face drastic consequences. The two mention that even now we are feeling the impacts of previous decades’ decisions. We are seeing failures upon failures whether it’s inequality, the education system, the healthcare system amongst other things. And in the long-term climate change and climate crises is pretty much inevitable.
“We heard that you have a very exciting upcoming event, the YOUTH DEBATE! What’s the sales pitch? Why should young people be there?”
Sanat says, “currently our political systems do not work for young people. Our problems are not heard and issues are not solved. We need politicians to LEVEL with us. Through grassroots networks in Tamaki Makaurau we are bringing together young people. Here’s THREE reasons you should come!”
- Young people are engaged and should care because politics shapes the lives they live.
- When we engage as young people, we often do it better than any other group in society.
- We believe our issues are just as important as other issues. The things that constantly fuck young people up won’t ever change until we are willing to have a conversation about them.
FUN FACTS ABOUT YOUTH DEBATE
- It is the only one being run and organised BY young people.
- It’s not for profit…free of cost.
- It takes place on the 12th of September at Auckland Town Hall
“Why do some young people refuse to vote in both of your eyes?”
Caeden says that 16 and 17 year olds are the ones who are more likely to vote…but shocker, they can’t. If you’re in a family that votes, the cycle continues. Caeden also says that young people move around a lot whether it’s halls, flatting or other homes; so they often don’t feel connected to the area they are voting in. Sanat adds that the political system isn’t accessible and we get one class in year 9 about voting, if we’re lucky. How do we engage young people?
“Politics is stupid. Idgaf.”
Something that a LOT of young people often say…HOW can we change this according to you guys?
Politics is inaccessible and unreachable for many people. It’s about a shift in cultural attitudes and isn’t something that can change overnight. Caeden says that by hosting events like the youth debate, they are being a part of the greater shift yet to come—telling young people that politics is a safe space. Sanat on the other hand says that picturing what civics education will look like in a classroom isn’t the ideal solution and what we need is all systems acting in collaboration with each other. He says the youth debate is a very clear signal because it is young people saying politics isn’t something separate from us—it is about our lives and about building the things around us; It’s about politicians sitting down and engaging in the stories of our lives. He hopes that we can inject a narrative into the youth civics space and build a collective movement.
“Interesting opinion you have about the upcoming election.”
Caeden – “It is BULLSHIT that we can win a case at the Supreme Court and Make it 16 is still something that is a “possibility” before the election.”
Sanat – “People say democracy is not a bread and butter issue, but it is. Our current government focuses on the same aspects centring around crime and the economy for years. Why is our election being narrowed to the same things over and over? Democracy IS a bread and butter issue. It’s like politicians look at young people and think ‘they should be grateful, why are they pushing to be heard’ which makes me wonder if they’re just scared of being called out on what shit they’re doing wrong.” He says it’s time for the adults in this country to suck it up.
“What does the future of your campaign look like?”
These two want their mahi to continue until we have an accessible democracy. They’ve just had their bill announced on the 15th of August 2023 which is super exciting! The bill would allow young people from age 16 to vote in local elections. Ensuring young people are able to vote is the start with their crazy opposition and the need to actually ensure the young people show up. In every other country, they say lowering the voting age has been a top down process but here? It’s literally teenagers in Barbie hoodies and old patagonia sweatshirts out here fighting for their lives. “Let’s not make it hard for young people to show up in these hostile frameworks, and make politics a safe space” they say. As Sanat said, “let’s hope the youth voter turnout rates are fuckin crazy next election!!”
Talking with these two, I guess I realise how fucked politics really is for us as young people; It isn’t something that’s serving US. Make it 16 is sparking a movement that will surely make this space a lot less shitty, and make people a lot less sceptical about politics as a whole. Let’s MAKE IT 16!!