I am seeking funding for my participation in the 45 for the 45th project. The project is designed to send students in the UK to the US to learn about their system of engagement and to then bring those techniques back to the UK to improve our system. We have a low voter turnout, especially with the young voter category. The programme seeks to reverse this declining trend using the techniques we will study (and practise) whilst working in the US.
As I’m sure you’re aware, the UK prides itself on being a democracy where we have free and fair elections for our representatives to all institutions. However, as a nation we have one of the lowest levels of democratic participation, especially at the local and EU level. I have signed up to a programme called “45 for the 45th”, which is designed to help change this.
The 45 for the 45th Programme is designed to send students in the UK to the US to study their system of politics and more specifically engagement in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential elections (the 45th President). As you can appreciate the engagement rate with voters in the UK is fairly low in comparison to other nations. The General Elections since 1997 have seen 60-65% turnout. This gets worse when moving to European politics, with no European Parliament Election having gained about 40% of the available votes. With the European Referendum to be held soon, I hope you can appreciate how a low voter turnout could impact on such a huge issue of the future of the UK. This is contrasted to US politics, where voter engagement and political activism appears to be much higher. When I look at the primary systems and the cult of Trump and Clinton, it makes British politics appear unenthusiastic. The programme is specifically aimed at trying to reverse the trend of declining “young voter” turn out. In 2005 we saw young voters, those 18-25, at 38%, which leads to a genuine democratic deficit, within age/gender/ethnic ranges and society as a whole; this puts the future of democracy in the UK in jeopardy.
The programme is designed to educate UK university students in the systems used by US campaigns and to then bring that knowledge back to the British system, referred to as “the legacy”. We will be working to write a report for Westminster, Whitehall and the devolved governments about how to best increase the young voter turnout and total voter turnout, and make the UK the democratic state it claims to be. With the UK being ranked 76th in the world for democratic status, I hope you can appreciate why such a scheme has been set up
The project seeks to go beyond basic voting, but to get young people in the nations and regions of the UK talking about the future of the country. Young people need to be talking about citizenship, democracy, political ideology to make a prosperous future. By increasing engagement we increase understanding and discussion. With people talking about their ideology, we stand up to limited/populist politics. If we get young people willing to have these conversations, they will go on to be better business people, leading a more clued-up society, using words and elections to challenging ideology. To make a more tolerant and cohesive society with respect and understanding for different beliefs and desires, rather than the more fragmented and closed-off culture we seem to be heading towards, especially in our representative “democratic” institutions.
However, the intention behind my writing to you is to ask for help in funding for this project. Each participant in the project has to pay their own way. We survive from private funding only. Whilst the teams we are co-operating with in the US are trying to gain us free room and board with their ground activists, I will still need to pay for travel, health insurance, telecommunications, visa etc. In addition to this, I will be going out twice, so that I can remain a full time university student here in the UK.
Therefore, I ask, if you would be able to sponsor me on this project. Failing this, would you have ideas on individuals or organisations who would be willing or able to help in such a task?