Every time has its people, and every person has their time. This expression seems to be a fundamental law of history; everyone or every generation has the opportunity to be a determinant. Indeed, it is true that there are no actors who play eternal roles, including the role itself. In essence, we are all just waiting for our turn to become historical actors. However, we do not know when that time will come, so effort is required to be a person of one’s time.
The 2024 election is a time for youth to determine the course of their nation’s history. It is a moment to emerge as a veto player in the decisive battle to choose the right captain to lead the great ship named Indonesia, so it can sail in the right direction. The youth of Indonesia, who make up more than half of the total voters in this election, must not be mere foam on the vast ocean. They may seem plentiful, but in reality, they should not be without significance.
Based on voter data released by the Election Commission (KPU), out of the total 204,807,222 registered voters, 111,622,550 are youth voters. Those classified as youth voters include Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, and millennials born in the 1980s to 1996. With a substantial 65.45% of the total voters falling into this category, it’s no wonder they are the focus of attention for all the contestants. This is a sizable pool of votes. It is believed that whoever can secure the majority of the youth voters’ support will have an easier path to seize power.
With this reality, it is hoped that there will be awareness among the youth voters themselves regarding the importance of their support. This self-awareness is necessary to navigate the political spectacle during the campaign period orchestrated by politicians. Campaigns filled with gimmicks, lacking in programmatic platforms, and far from promoting civic education have inundated our public space during the election season.
Campaigning in this manner is not detached from views derived from findings of several research studies on the trends of youth interacting with information technology. These individuals are closely connected to and familiar with information technology, but not necessarily with content that goes beyond political and national issues. They may spend a considerable amount of time enjoying entertainment rather than delving into knowledge. These youth tend to favor instant results and may not be inclined to invest time in a more profound learning process.
That’s why the political interaction that is fostered tends to emphasize gimmicks, dances, cute-designed faces, and the like. This form of political communication is far from narratives that enlighten or educate. Everything is simplified through a charitable approach, distancing itself from educative interactions.
If we reflect on the results of a national survey conducted by Katadata Insight Center in October 2023, it was revealed that 52% of youth are interested in politics, and they access political information through online news and social media accounts. Regarding the issues they want election participants to address, 48.2% are concerned about job opportunities, and 13.2% are interested in increasing awareness of the digital economy/creative economy. The most appealing campaign program is the implementation of entrepreneurship training (52.5%).
If we agree with the above survey results, then the model of political interaction filled with gimmicks and charity by election participants contradicts the genuine expectations of youth voters. As Airlangga Pribadi Kusman stated, our political arena misjudges the character of youth, wrongly considering them apathetic and antisocial. He cited the results of a survey by Indikator Politik Indonesia, indicating that the level of concern among millennials for ecological issues is at 79%. “This social reality should be a consideration for politicians if they truly care about the future of the younger generation, who are the heirs of this republic going forward” (Kompas, 12/18/2023).
The fact that some youth are apolitical is undeniable. However, generalizing that Generation Z and millennials are a generation that takes shortcuts, lacks fighting spirit, is apolitical, and dislikes serious matters is a fatal mistake. Look at the numerous critical and conscientious youth concerned about the future of their country, scattered across the nation and united in various networks. They often speak up loudly, criticizing the course of the nation.
In the 2024 Elections, this critical phenomenon is escalating as a response to the current social condition of the nation that is not in a good state. They are beginning to showcase their true youth identity, caring about the fate of the country that, in essence, they will inherit from the older generations.
Therefore, this awareness and critical stance must be nurtured, encouraged, and spread to all layers of other youth voters. It serves as an asset to strengthen the sovereignty of youth voters, whose votes in this election are significant and decisive. Do not allow vote hunters to continually diminish the meaningful presence of youth voters. Be sovereign youth voters by using sound judgment as a filter against the information tsunami filled with hoaxes, slander, and other falsehoods. 
Member of the Banten Province KPU for the 2018-2023 Period
Translated by Catherine Natalia