The Importance of Being a Politically Aware Young Person

Story by Emma DeLaRosa, Staff Writer

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Prior to the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, David Hogg was an average student at the school who kept to himself; however, the traumatizing event transformed him into an activist against gun violence. He sets an example for students to take control of the future. Many young adults feel as though politics does not affect their day-to-day lives and that their involvement is unnecessary. But as Hogg said in an interview with The Guardian, “We are young and we are not going to leave it to a generation of corrupt politicians to decide our future.”

Many young students are stuck in the mindset that politics only concerns the stuffy politicians plastered all over the news. However, political issues affect everyone on a local and national level. Politicians on all levels make legislative decisions that affect young people and everyone else around them. In this case, ignorance is not bliss because government action affects young people whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. However, the blame does not lie entirely with young people — politicians create an environment that makes them feel so disconnected. According to a survey conducted by Hamilton College, “When asked about various reasons for young peoples’ lack of political participation, 33.6 percent strongly agreed that politicians did not pay enough attention to young peoples’ concerns, and 32.1 percent strongly agreed that negative campaigning turned off young people.” If there were more younger people not only aware of political issues but involved in the process, then that would solve many of the issues that they are concerned about.

Many young people are unconvinced in that their political involvement will affect their lives. Mr. McCarney, the advisor of Stonington High School’s Politics Club, says, “Part of growing up involves being more enlightened and educated about your surroundings, including local and national affairs…Being more informed allows an individual (yes, young people, too) to make informed decisions that impact yourself and others.” Political awareness is necessary because young people will shape the future.

When a person has never been involved in politics before, it can be a daunting task to find a place to start. Mr. McCarney suggests that young people can start by choosing a few media outlets to follow and reading about things that spark their interest. McCarney also says, “I would also encourage taking time to watch the local and national news at least once a week. I know for some, news programs are not as engaging as ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians,’ but it is more important to the lives we live.” It is important to start somewhere. By using the technology available at nearly everyone’s fingertips, one can pay attention to news that catches his or her attention.

Political awareness does not have to be boring, complicated, or ignored. It is important in making decisions that will change the future of the nation. Despite what many may think, young people have the power to make a difference in the world. There are many ways to get involved beyond just voting — students can get involved with their school’s politics club, take note of current events, and form educated opinions that speak to their personal beliefs.

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