Thursday, June 30, 2016

Teenage Suffrage - We Need a Voice Too


“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, we can work together.” — Lilla Watson


        Should teenagers be allowed to vote? In my personal opinion, yes. Further, I believe that the age of fifteen is a great age to start voting. This would give teens more political and social experience, it would allow for them to have a say in their future, and it would help them to develop a responsible and mature outlook on the American political process. Notably, there are potential flaws in this idea. Not every fifteen year old is informed enough to participate in such a process. Registration would need to be dependent upon the completion of certain conditions, just like it is for adults. Much like students have to take Driver's Education courses to drive, they would need to take Voter's Education courses to vote. They would need to be taught how to properly interpret the messages that politicians deliver in public speeches, they would need to be able to understand the sometimes flimsy nature of those speeches, and they would need to be made eminently aware of the dangers ahead of them, as politicians and Political Action Committees vie for their vote.
        Fifteen is a great age to start experiencing politics, as this is the age when teens truly begin to develop the maturity and intelligence needed to function in society. Why not get them involved in the political process immediately, so that later they feel there is a reason for them to invest their time in the process? This would help to develop their decision making skills and teach them to consider both sides of an argument, as they listen to opposing parties fight for the vote, before they made a decision. Further, it would teach them the importance of informed debate and help them to develop their own informed and mature political views.
        This would also give teens a say in the development of their futures. As a student and a citizen of the United States, I would gladly take the responsibility of voting because I want to have a say in how my future plays out. Decisions regarding the fate of young people are made by adults in this country every single day. How can they possibly make informed decisions and effective plans for these young people, if these young people are not involved in the process? Imagine how much more smoothly schools would function if their students felt invested their operation. Imagine how much more seriously students would take their education if they had a hand in deciding who would be given the responsibility to run those schools. I want this feeling, and in order to get that feeling, I need to be able to help choose the people that are going make the important decisions that affect my future.
        However, as I already mentioned, we would need to take certain precautions so that teenagers know what they are getting in to. They need to have, at the very least, a basic understanding of the law and how the government operates. The Voter's Education course that I mentioned earlier could be a course in Civics offered to students in the Eighth grade. This would be perfect for educating young people preparing to vote in their first elections. They need to understand how our government's elections work and why it is very important to vote. I also think school speaking tours would be a great idea during this period. We would have people go to schools and give lectures to students on how important it is to vote and what an important right it is to have. They could also talk about how not all people in the past have had such an important right made so readily available to them. The goal would be to encourage teens to take advantage of their right to vote, while the education would be there to help them make the informed decisions that I spoke of earlier.
        I also mentioned that I am worried that some people may try to exert undue influence over teens getting ready to vote. Certain protections would need to be in place to prevent this from happening. It is very possible that a teacher or a principal might try to advertise their political preferences in such a way that teens may feel pressured to vote a certain way, lest they face some sort of social reprisal. This education program is the first step towards putting such protections in place, in that, a well educated voter can make their own decisions, and thus, protect themselves. Teens to be secure in the understanding that they can vote how they choose, no matter how someone in authority may stand on an issue.
        Let's consider the 2016 election cycle to be a real world example. This election has adults very confused on who to vote for. So much so that some have actually considered leaving the country if their preferred candidate is not elected. Is that really what we want our citizens to do when they are uncertain of a candidate's qualifications, or dissatisfied with the outcome of an election? I've noticed that teens are more interested in the outcome of this election than any other election that I can recall in recent memory. This is already a high turnout voting season.  Imagine if teens were allowed to vote. The turn out at the polls would probably be breaking national records. The teens that are showing the most interest in this election are those who have a legitimate interest in their future, and nearly all of them, to my account, are in support of a progressive agenda. Further, they know full well what that means. So, if adults, who are having a hard time making sense of everything, are allowed to vote, why can't teens, who actually have a pretty solid grip on what is going on, vote too? It really makes no sense that a forty year old, who has no clue who or what they are voting for can have the right to vote but a fifteen year old, straight A student, can't. Rethink the voting age America! Teens need a voice!

3 comments:

  1. I have a very bright and informed 15 year old son who would love to know he's not the only one wanting a voice in his future. Has been so discouraged at the way our two presidential candidates are behaving he suggested no one vote for either of them and we start all over till we find the right one to lead.

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    1. The only way we can make the changes we make it change ourselves

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  2. Teenagers are regularly treated like second class citizens simply because they are teenagers. No one takes them seriously, no one listens to them, and everyone tells them what to do with their lives. One can only imagine what they world be like if they were actually able to have a say about how their futures are decided. I can imagine that the world would be a much more peaceful place.

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