The Importance of getting Youth Involved in Politics

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By Tralicia Robinson

Youth in Politics PhotoAccording to the” National Exit Polls” 45% of young people fluctuating from the ages 18-20 voted in 2012, and the percentage has dropped by 6% since 2008 where 51% of young people voted.

Looking at the political landscape of America, there are not enough youth politically involved. Young people like myself will make up the future of our country one day even if we like it or not. Our future needs to be shaped into what will soon be suitable for- the near future generations.

But how can we uplift more frequent political activity among our youth?  More than half of my fellow youth are apathetic to the topic of politics. Many feel like they are looked down upon, they can’t seem to find the right things to put that much needed spark into the public’s eye or to grasp the attention of those who there looking to gain attention.   Basically, the thought of politics can be uninspiring and can often strike boredom. Speaking from a youth standpoint I believe if you don’t understand politics, try to find things you feel are most in common or that you look toward as being relatable.

On the recent government shutdown, most of our youth did not think of the major implications of its affects or the potential problems that will soon reappear.  This impact and we have galvanized people’s families as youth are oblivious to what has been going on and how in some way or another we are being affected as well.

As a resident of the District of Columbia, I understand we are a city that is guided by a federal budget and without statehood we have no voice politically in our own affairs.   For instance, many youth in D.C. have all had an summer jobs, ether through the Department of Employment Services (D.O.E.S.) Summer Youth Employment Program or a typical lawn mowing or babysitting jobs around the neighborhood.  Youth have had the opportunity to experience what , it takes to work hard, with dedication, and commitment to something. Therefore, youth can start to involve themselves and relate to the topic of the government shutdown and how that would make them feel if they were to experience a government shut down while they’re looking forward to going to their summer jobs.

Suddenly, their perspective about working would change. They may not know if and when they would return to work.  This would spark outrage, which sometimes can force people into political activism.

Polling youth across the city, I’ve come learn about the thought patterns of political activism.  A 16-year old Ward 8 resident had this to say about the government shutdown, “I don’t feel any type of way, it didn’t affect me!”, an 18-year old respondent said, “I really don’t know anything about the Shutdown!” and a 24-year old said, “I’m just happy for it to be finally over.”

Each of these responses suggest that youth are not politically engaged as we should be. . The statement that was made by the 24yr old is amongst the most common response that I’ve heard, which allows me to inform my fellow peers that they are not the only people who think the shutdown is over.

They have temporarily put this to a halt until January 15, 2014 and extended the debt limit until February 7, 2014. Youth have to recognize that politics is predominantly made of dissimilar parties coming from dissimilar places and having dissimilar outlooks on things that they all feel they know the answer to. Encouraging youth to think more knowledgeable about the everyday day problems of our world and ask questions about things they don’t know would increase their political acumen.

The rudimentary crux about politics is that not enough topics are destined for young people. Younger people have to connect their real-life situations with their understanding of politics.  Three possible ways to get youth involved can include: bringing the subject into our public schooling systems, arranging community town-halls aimed at youth, and increasing jobs for youth involving politics.

Bringing forth politics to public schooling systems will allow our youth to be familiar with the subject matter, allowing students to become more assertive. Arranging organizations with youth-focused topics to speak before student and young adult panels could also help bridge the gap. Hopefully this would encourage youth to speak out more.  If more jobs and internships were offered to youth including politics they would be given the possibility of experiencing political out looks on the world. We all now know why youth should get politically involved in politics,  but-now are we all going to get youth involved together?

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