Hanging at under-the-radar Queen East coffee shops, obsessing over Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” and trying to squeeze in enough study time for final exams are a few things 18-year-old Morgan Baskin has been up to lately. Pretty normal behavior for the average teen urbanite, and on the surface, Morgan would totally fit the bill if it weren’t for the teensy weensy fact that she’s running to be Toronto’s next mayor.
If Morgan wins in October, that would make her the youngest mayor in the country and the leader of Canada’s largest city. Those are pretty big shoes for anyone to fill, and unlikely for any fringe candidate (let alone a recent high school grad). Nonetheless, this city girl is pressing on and not letting too hard or too young stop her from trying.
In between her balancing act of normal high school life and a full-fledged mayoral campaign, Morgan took the time to sit down and chat with the We365 team about her journey so far. Despite being a longshot, this candidate is full of resolve and an inspiration to young idealists everywhere.
Why run for mayor now?
I was just continually frustrated with the lack of youth involvement in politics and just kind of the exclusion of young people from that world. I spent about two years complaining about it, and it really became a question of why not? The thing about politics is no one pays attention unless there’s a splash. I felt passionate about running for mayor, so I picked the thing I was passionate about.
Teens aren’t exactly known for their passion for politics. What got you into it?
My mom works in social justice, so I grew up in a world kind of surrounded by politics. I think that young people aren’t interested in electoral politics, but they’re very interested in other sides of politics in terms of things like causes and issues. We have opinions, but we don’t often engage in electoral politics, which is an important distinction to make.
Why is that? Why do you think young people are left out of the convo when it comes to mainstream politics?
I think it’s a vicious cycle. Young people don’t vote, so we don’t talk about young people’s issues. We’re not considered stakeholders. I think politicians need to show up for young people, be in spaces where young people spend time, and talk about young people’s issues. The problem is with electoral politics not with young people. Young people are signing petitions, joining protests and all sorts of things.
Your campaign also focuses on modern tech and using it to move the city forward. What are your thoughts on the We365 app?
I think we way too often make the mistake that young people don’t care or don’t want to work to change the world. I think that any platform that can encourage young people to do things they feel passionate about is a good thing. It’s incredibly important.
Besides running for mayor and being a full-time high school student, you’re also really involved in the community. You volunteer as a Cubs leader and camp counsellor. Why does giving back matter to you?
Part of it is selfish. One day I’ll be old and I hope there’s someone behind me willing to pick up the slack. To have a functional society we need to have people who are leaders. Also, you get so much back in terms of emotional fulfillment. It’s a beautiful thing that you can’t get anywhere else.
There’s pressure being in the public eye, especially with being slated as a role model. On your Tumblr, you opened up about your fear of perfection and your views about being an example. Can you talk about that?
I think perfect role models are useless role models, because they’re not achievable goals. I think it’s incredibly important, especially for young women, to see role models as well-rounded people. I’m not perfect and you’re not perfect, so you can actually be like me and you are like me. I do find it scary to be called a role model, and it causes you to think a lot more about your actions. That’s good, but I mean, I’m eighteen. I’m still trying to figure out who I am.
Any word of advice to We365ers and fellow change-makers?
I think you gotta put one foot in front of the other. Some days it’s not a good time and some days it’s the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to you. You just need to remember why you’re there, and I do think that sometimes soul searching is important. If you can’t remember why you’re there then you need to rethink where you’re standing, find a different cause to believe in and something else to fight for.
Thanks for chatting with us Morgan! To be part of a community of young change-makers who are making the planet a better place, download We365 today. #changetheworld