As a 17-year-old aspiring political activist and reporter, it’s frustrating to have watched elections come and pass since beginning my freshman year in high school.
Some elections have turned out as I would’ve wished them to, some haven’t. Regardless, I’ve always felt anxious over the lack of a personal ballot.
At an issue seminar I attended earlier today during the National High School Journalism Convention, Wayne Garcia, a political reporter, spoke to a huge, overflowing-past-capacity room filled with young journalists about why it is that students seem to be overlooked in political happenings throughout the United States.
“The vast majority of people who decide what happens in this country are old [people] like me,” Garcia pointed out.
Younger voters (from ages 18 to 24) show a pathetic 38 percent voter turnout rate. Senior citizens (aged to 65 and over) show the most impressive rates, nearing almost 70 percent.
“So when you wonder why nobody listens to you, why everything is crazy, this is why,” Garcia continued.
For some reason, younger voters aren’t understanding of why politics seem to kind of suck– because even after someone turns 18, it’s decades before the generation holds a majority in the voting population.
Students shouldn’t be standing aside while the political system takes its course. Yes, there is class, there are sports, everyone has college applications and families and friends– but nothing is going to be more important than understanding what is happening and, even more importantly, how it impacts them as individuals.
The information is lacking throughout many students. When asked where they stand politically, it seems to be rare that anyone answers differently than their mom or dad would answer for them. There’s a lack of both knowledge and free thought throughout younger generations.
Many aspects of society are at fault for this.
It is imperative that the media, the government and the general public encourage young adults to understand that every age of every generation is just as important as any other when electing high rated officials.
Something standing in the way of knowledge among younger generations is the fact that politicians don’t care about anyone who can’t or won’t vote. Unless they know you’re a time worthy individual who has voted in past elections, no candidate will care enough to reach out– nor will they care enough to count you into their policies.
What we often see because of this is a lack of student representation and involvement in the government. Even though it is the job of a U.S. politician to properly and effectively represent every citizen of the country, such a large amount of people are repetitively ignored.
During the school board elections and the forum Mountain Vista Media hosted a little under a month ago, the staff and editors that worked so hard to put together the debate also worked hard to ensure there was a broad understanding among all of the candidates: that students are the center of what they do.
While the Colorado state senator or the president of the United States may not revolve their policies around the students of the country, it’s still important to note the presence of them and the importance they hold in society.
The states facing the lowest funding for education are also facing the lowest high school graduation rates. This pattern isn’t something that ends with the high school dropouts. It ends at collapsing economies that face the highest unemployment rates.
Education is undeniably a major base by which a society builds itself. It isn’t something that can be denied in the political system– and the individuals involved in the educational realm cannot be ignored either.
But, ultimately, it doesn’t start with politicians. It starts with the people. Get up, read up and involve yourself. Using the hashtag #MVpolitics, let us know what you think about the current state of American politics. Let us know about the school board, our local government, our state officials or even the upcoming presidential election. Every week, we’ll retweet the most complex or pressing political view. We’ll be writing about what you have to say on VistaNow and on other platforms as well.