We Have a Voice

What if the fate of the presidential election was left to the hands of teenagers? To some this may sound like a frightening proposal. After all, teenagers are not known for their deep insight regarding political issues or their keen sense of understanding when it comes to the decisions facing our nation’s leaders. Rather, they’re known for their inability to control their emotions, their chronic desire to sleep, and their somewhat outlandish thoughts that seem to challenge the very nature of society. Yet despite these generalizations, teenagers and young people are becoming increasingly involved in the government. As they begin to question existing opinions, they begin to form their own. And at a time like this, their voices matter.

On November 6, the American people voted for the President of the United States. Later that evening, the results were in: Barack Obama had been re-elected. Though many teens weren’t actually able to cast their own ballots in the election, it didn’t keep them from participating in other ways.

“I actually worked the polls in my precinct. […] I was actually really nervous throughout the entire day. […] They started calling states, and then finally they were like, ‘We have a big announcement.’ And they already called the election. They were like ‘We re-elected Obama.’ I was super happy, I couldn’t vote but I knew that three of those four years he will be my first president as a young adult, so I was very excited; I was really, really happy,” said senior Aury St. Germain.

Teenagers are not oblivious to the issues facing our nation. The economic crisis we’re currently recovering from, the role of the government in education, and the various social issues that are tearing our country apart are all on the forefronts of the minds of interested teens. None of their situations are exactly the same, and they are learning which issues they care about the most.

“I’m very dear to social issues such as human rights, gay marriage, and things like that. In my personal opinion, I believe that everyone has a choice and they should be able to do what they want to and not have to sacrifice their rights or personal liberties, and they should be able to receive the same benefits as a married couple, or whatever,” said Germain.

“I feel like one person’s freedoms end where the next person’s begins,” said junior Austin Downing when asked about his opinion on social issues. “Meaning that you can do whatever you want as long as it’s not hurting another person, and I take that as a personal philosophy.”

One of the most important things on the minds of young people is education. In this day and age, a college degree seems to be an almost mandatory requirement when trying to find a job. At the same time however, it doesn’t offer the same safety net as it once did when a college education was rare.  Because of this, the means to attaining a higher education and the role of the federal government in education are some of the things that affect how teens choose to view candidates.

“Probably education since I’m going to college next year, and I need to make sure I have enough money to go where I want to go to” said senior Merrill Tebay when asked about which national issue mattered most to her. “I think which ever president or figure that is going to help me with that the most, then that’s who I’m going to vote for.”

Handing over the reins to a new generation always involves some butting of heads. The ideas and passions of the youth don’t always reflect the thoughts of the older generations, and this can be alarming for some. But tradition is constantly changing, and maybe it’s not as frightening as some believe it to be. Teens today are proving that they have the ability to make informed decisions, and their involvement in the government is growing. They’re proving to society that their vote counts.

“As we get older, politics matter to us and we’re getting more interested in it and doing are research because we are getting to vote, too,” said senior Christi Sergio.

























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by Drew Wesley and Anna Robertson