Get your head in the game

Political involvement among youth in need of revival


photo by Sarah Gibson

One of the ways for youth to get involved in politics, regardless of age, is to attend a rally. Presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio held a local rally in Sanford leading up to the 2016 Florida primary.

When I attended this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference and brushed shoulders with presidential candidates, senators and other who’s who in the political arena, I cannot tell you how many people thanked me for simply being there, thanked me for being involved and informed and thanked me for caring enough about the future of this nation to dedicate my time to informing others. Political involvement from millennials surprises people, and as flattering as it is to receive kind words regarding my involvement, the fact that it surprises people is a testament to this sad truth: involvement among millennials is inadequate. We aren’t as involved as we truly should be. The political movement among millennials is in desperate need of revival to secure the long-term success of our nation.

Only 8.9 percent of the world’s population, people from only 20 nations, live in a full democracy like the United States. We live in a nation where we are privileged with a voice and an impact. We have the right to form opinions and defend them. We are given a say in our government, a right many people around the world are fighting for. We have the right to determine the direction we take as a nation; however, inaction still determines the direction we take, only it sends us down the wrong path.

In general, millennials show no effort or interest when it comes to politics. In a research survey by PRRI, 49 percent of millennials show no civil or political engagement, while another 17 percent show low engagement, participating in only one event per campaign cycle. Out of millennials with a high school degree or less (in other words, us), only 22 percent surveyed reported moderate to high political engagement, and a whopping 63 percent reported no civil or political involvement at all.

What we fail to realize as America’s future is that not paying attention now will catch up to us once it’s too late. The areas where we lack today become our weaknesses tomorrow. Ignoring the issues now only jeopardizes our well-being in the future, as we are people who can truly propel this nation toward success or failure. We have a voice and our nation provides us the ability to use it, yet many of us remain silent.

As millennials, we are stereotyped as entitled kids who love to complain, and we do love to complain. We complain about student loans, economic injustice and sexism. We complain about LGBT rights, lack of available jobs and racial inequality. We nag and we nag, but until we back up our complaints with action and determination, our words will go unheard. We need to speak out by showing up when it’s our time to vote, forming educated opinions and encouraging others to do the same. If you’re all talk and no substance, serious people will fail to take you seriously.

We don’t need to make America great again because it’s already great, but once we’re in control, will we be able to keep it that way? We are the future of America, and, as of now, our future is looking subpar. Step up the game and care about something that matters; something that not only affects you, but your family, friends and every other person that calls this nation home.

This election is especially groundbreaking for our generation. The next elected president will hold office for the four years our graduating class will spend earning a college degree, or for some, the first four years in the workforce or the armed services. The next president affects our chances of getting a job after college or how long we’ll take paying off student loans. The next president sets the stage for the rest of our lives and determines what state this nation will be in once it’s our time to show the world what we’re made of. Whether you align conservative, liberal or neither, become educated enough to form your own opinions on an election that directly affects each of us at a pivotal time in our lives.

I don’t want to be part of a generation more likely to sign an online petition than vote at the polls. Will we leave this nation stronger for the next generation, or will we repeat the economic crisis of 2007? Will we put national security in jeopardy? Will we allow our constitutional rights to be stripped away? We are the future, but the future will be determined by our actions in the present. I’m not campaigning for you to agree with my political views or vote for my favorite candidate, rather I encourage you to think for yourself and become informed. Become involved. For crying out loud, become excited. We are future leaders, future voters and future working citizens contributing to the success of the greatest nation in the world, but if we want others to believe it, we need to start acting like it.

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Design by Sarah Gibson