It Affects Us, Too

Even though we are not old enough to vote, we still need to care


graphic by Kendel Barber

No matter what side you are on, it is important to stay involved.

By Kendel Barber, North Allegheny Senior High School

Frequently throughout the halls of a high school, when the topic of politics comes up, I hear students say “I don’t care.” Now, I definitely hear adults say this, too, but it is much more common for young people to spit out this phrase commonly. It seems as though most teenagers do not have any interest in the policies that shape their lives or what happens in the government, but I think this should change.

I definitely get why some people try to avoid the topic of politics: it is an ugly part of the world. It seems like no one agrees on a certain standpoint and any political opinion will be opposed by someone. Frequently, it is easier to stay silent than to say anything that might cause a stir in any way. It is one of those topics we are always told doesn’t belong at the dinner table, along with religion. Politics is not associated with harmony, so people take the easy way out and limit themselves to discussing bipartisan and sometimes meaningless topics.

While politics may not be the best topic for a peaceful dinner with family if you want to avoid heated arguments and awkward revelations about loved ones’ opinions, it is still important to care.

No matter what you are advocating for or against, let your voice be heard and never let adults tell us that our political opinions do not matter.”

There are countless reasons why teenagers should care about politics, the most important also being the most obvious: politics affect everyone. Everyone’s lives are dictated by a few powerful people in Washington, and that’s why politics matter.

But the relationship between teens and politics is more complicated, especially because it can seem that the world often silences us. Most of us cannot vote and are frequently told our voices do not matter. Yet, even though we can not vote and may not be as educated as most adults yet, it is still important to care about politics.

But for us to stay silent and be pushed aside is silly. We are affected by federal, state, and local policies, and so voicing our opinions, having respectful discourse with others, and simply staying informed are exceptionally necessary for our democracy to work.

When we teens do something to participate in politics and get adults to listen to what we have to say, we can accomplish great things. Take the March For Lives, for example. Organized completely by teenagers, this was one of the largest political movements in recent years. These teenagers succeeded in getting over 200,000 people, mostly young adults and teens, to march in Washington alone, with hundreds of other sister marches in other cities, totaling 1.2 million marchers nationwide. The movement spread awareness of gun control and has had positive ramifications for how the government deals with gun violence.

In the 2020 presidential election, current high school sophomores will be eligible to vote. Approximately 20.2 million Americans will turn 18 before that time. It is therefore crucial to educate ourselves before then.  It is important for people to not forget that we are the future of America: our generation will be the voters, the senators, the representatives, and the future presidents, and just starting to care about that when we are 18 is not good enough.

When teenagers care about politics, good things come from it. No matter what you are advocating for or against, let your voice be heard and never let adults tell you that your political opinions do not matter. They do.

This story was originally published on The Uproar on April 17, 2019.