The fundamental flaw with democracy is not that old people are allowed to vote for a future they will not live to see, it’s more that any two idiots can outvote one well-informed, selfless, intelligent and experienced old protest-singer.
My phone and email inbox were kept busy this week by people insisting that I should respond to a NZ Herald article written by some clown called Matt Heath who proposed that people over 65 (Baby Boomers) should not be able to vote. His reasoning, in short, was that since we oldies aren’t going to be around to suffer the damage that our self-serving votes inflict on society we should not have any say in the future.
Amongst this patronising pap, there was also some rambling about how racist, homophobic, violent and idea-challenged New Zealand was in 1960s and 70s — and how much better the country is in every respect today.
In writing this, did Mr Heath pause to wonder why the country has improved since the bad old days?
I’m guessing he wasn’t born when people like me were making noise and doing our best to change NZ into a more farsighted and selfless society.
Many of the things we fought for or protested against are now accepted everyday values: Environmentalism, Anti-Nuclear Arms, Racism, Women’s rights and Animal Conservation to name a but a few.
We stood up for the wrongs we wanted righted. We cared. Often idealistically and sometimes naively, but we helped change the world for the better. This is fact — history not opinion.
I’m tempted to say the youth of today don’t appear to stand for anything — they certainly don’t stand for old people or pregnant ladies on the bus like we did when we were young.
However, I’m not an ageist and I know that’s not true. The young do care. They have to because it’s their future that’s at stake. And it’s their future that looks bleak as things stand now.
The real problem for many young people is that they just don’t believe they have the power to implement changes. Many don’t even bother to vote because they’re convinced their votes won’t count because we old buggers will stand in the way of any changes that will benefit them. And by the time they come to realise that we old people really do care about the future and current welfare of the young — our grandchildren — they, too, will be old.
The reality is that attitudes have little to do with age but everything to do with personality. Selfish bastards vote selfishly and stupid bastards vote stupidly.
If the young today care more about the Kardashians than they do the United Nations it’s because they are steeped in a media driven celebrity culture that seems determined to pander to the lowest common denominator.
I’m the first to admit that in many respects we oldies have thrown the young a hospital pass. There are a great many things wrong with the world today that self-serving Boomer behaviour has contributed to. And these things need to be addressed rigorously by thoughtful, concerned citizens.
It’s essential that we keep our eye on those in charge and demand the changes that are so desperately needed.
So, I’m sorry, I may be over 65 but I will continue to vote because I know how government works and I can spell parliament, and I’m not going to abdicate my responsibilities to those who don’t know either.
Finally, Mr Heath also says: ‘Old age is time to relax. You deserve a rest…’
And on Wednesday July 13th, at the One@One café on Ponsonby Road, I’m going to perform live again for the first time in over 40 years.
I’ll be singing a few new songs to a new audience, just like I did back in the good old days.