Why pride doesn’t cut it | Manuel Zarb

Young people are not proud of political party branding in any capacity, and they do not identify with political parties’ PR campaigns

An article published in Maltatoday some days ago spoke about the governing party’s campaign ‘Proud of My Politics’. The writer makes a couple of points which are hard to disagree with – we certainly need a far more mature arena for debate, and one open to all political beliefs and inclinations.

But pride doesn’t cut it.

Young people are not proud of political party branding in any capacity, and they do not identify with political parties’ PR campaigns. They are proud of things which are wholly outside the realm of politics - friends and family, their work, their education, their competences, and their capacity to think for themselves. Often, they are strongly proud of their values and ideals.

A nice advertisement presumably paid for by one of the Labour Party’s donors in the private sector does not get our heart beating, really. Young people don’t want to reduce themselves to an ‘I am PN / I am Labour’ dogma. That is why, as the writer says, they have to be tempted by freebies to even turn a head towards student politics, for example.

Young people, generally speaking, do not want to engage with politics at all. This isn’t because they’re selfish – it’s because they’re afraid of retribution in their professional lives, especially if they want to work in the civil service. It’s also because they see activists have their addresses spread online, their pictures shared on groups moderated by state staffers, and suffering barrages of insults, ranging from silliness to expressions of violence and hatred. For young women, the insults or threats are often sexual in nature. No matter how open a political party is to women (and more generally), few actually want to stick their head into the mud. That is very unfortunate, and a detriment to the quality of democracy.

Young people don’t usually aspire to be government communications consultants (although to each their own). We want to build our own lives and advance on our own merits, not by kissing the boots of prominent politicians. We want to live in an environment as open to the free expression of our beliefs – of anyone’s belief – as possible.

We want to keep our horizons as wide as we can. Je suis PN /Je Suis Labour is tragically out of step with what we aspire to be.

Manuel Zarb is a student at the University of Malta and a member of Awturi, an NGO working in favour of good governance

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