We’ve heard it all too many times, the number of things that adults tell us we can’t do because “we’re too young.” Many teenagers look forward to the day they turn 21, mainly because the window of opportunities has opened, bringing in a wide spectrum of possibilities. For now, though, most of us are stuck at or below 18 years old. However, there’s one thing that we can do as teenagers, something that’s worthwhile and actually pretty neat: vote.
Registering to vote is more than just receiving a nifty little sticker to wear for the day. In fact, signing up is a big deal and can inspire one to learn more about politics. With recent debates on television, the election season has propelled me to research issues on my own and form my own opinions rather than just mirroring a person on a screen. I went on various non-bias websites, looked at candidates’ manifestos and analyzed their effects. Within the past year or so, I have become more aware of issues such as abortion, gun control, raising the minimum wage and border control. Because of this and the education that I have received, I’m beginning to solidify my beliefs as a young citizen.
This year, I’m enrolled in Comparative Politics, where I can analyze different countries’ governments and contrast their political systems. One fact that striked me as odd; however, is the U.S actually has a lower voting turnout rate than many other countries. Americans have the power to speak our minds and make a change in our government. Many countries around the world don’t have that sort of luxury, yet we waste that opportunity. According to the Department of Commerce website, 41.2 percent of 18 to 24 year olds voted, compared to the nearly 50 percent of those 25 to 44 years old. The people who are just dipping their toes in the murky waters of adulthood have a voice in how the government runs in their future, yet only 41 percent of those young adults will be heard.
The next president to be elected will have a huge effect on teenagers, and many don’t know it. Whether it be education costs, salary changes and other expenses, the government has a huge role in how we live. Various reforms and outlines impact our teachers, parents, neighbors and more. Although it may seem these points won’t make a difference to young adolescents, they will surely impact us when we start our careers, have a child and pay taxes. Arguing parents’ beliefs from the kitchen table will not help the country, but those standing in line to vote are the ones who will shape politics for future generations.