Youth Participation In Politics Important For Representing The Views Of The Future


Photo Courtesy of Sophie Coyne

Teenagers campaign for the presidential race because they are passionate about their beliefs. Sophie Coyne campaigned in the winter for Elizabeth Warren in New Hampshire.

Sophie Coyne, Contributing Writer

Polling by Tufts University from the 2020 Super Tuesday Primary indicated that youth voter turnout was only around 5-19% in most states. In fact, a large reason for this is a lack of education for youth voters on where to vote and how to re-register, especially if they are at college. But, because of low youth input, this does not get changed. This trend holds throughout the political system where issues that more heavily affect young people – like climate change or college education funding – are often put on the backburner and disregarded. That’s why politics can often seem so boring or confusing: they aren’t talking about the things that matter to us, and they aren’t talking about it in a way we’d understand. By ensuring that students have limited access to the electoral process and not focusing on student-oriented issues, older politicians are elected and push for issues that ignore the harm to our generation.

This is why it’s so important for students to follow politics, and ideally, get involved with it. Politics affects our everyday lives in subtle and obvious ways. On a state and local level, politicians are tasked with allocating funding and creating rules for schools. Things like standardized testing, less money for art or sports, and lower teacher pay are all political issues that directly affect us as students. Many students have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus crisis, and aren’t eligible for the stimulus checks because they are listed as “dependents.” The national government made the decisions on those guidelines, which blatantly ignored the needs of students – because many legislators didn’t understand there was a need. And, almost always, older politicians do not legislate with a regard for the future, often pushing for bills that create massive debt for our generation to deal with, or refusing to help with issues, like the climate crisis, which will be devastating for our children and grandchildren. Politics affects us now, and will always affect us in the future. 

Of course, politics is confusing and hard to understand, and can often seem very corrupt. However, you do not need to be an expert to follow the news or get involved. When the things politicians are debating could have devastating impacts on our futures, it’s worth spending an extra few minutes reading up on a bill or what it may mean. Many younger politicians, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also talk about politics in a way that is understandable to young people. Also, reach out to your local and federal representatives! Politicians do hear what people send them, and when there is an issue that you are worried about, writing a letter, sending an email, or making a call can help give them more information on the legislation they are considering. Politics can be very depressing, but in the end, most politicians are still human and they want to know how to help. Youth input in politics is crucial to ensuring that politicians know about student issues, and work in ways that help young people.