Teens Deserve Respect for Political Interest

Kaitlin Clark, Blue M Managing Editor

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We protest, we speak up and we fight for change. When will it be enough to gain some respect?

In our ever-changing political climate, teenagers are largely seen as going through “a phase” of political involvement. In a world where teens are seen as too young to fully comprehend politics, we have proven again and again that we have a voice. Teenagers should be respected for their interest in politics due to their participation in protests and marches, their use of social media as a platform for activism and, in some cases, their attempts to run for public office themselves, as well as their use of the law to support their cause.

This year has been major in the history of protests. Following the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, adults and teenagers alike took to the streets across the country to bring awareness to the growing issue of women’s rights. The official Women’s March website even features what they call their Youth Ambassadors, similar to the March for Science group named the Student Outreach Team. These teens have done incredible work, such as founding their own company created to help violence survivors and creating an organization to help the hungry.

These people have planned, organized, and marched at national events, but receive little to no credit. This model of hard work with no recognition needs to change.

One common complaint from older generations is that we are the technology-obsessed youth, constantly glued to our phones. Many don’t realize, however, that social media can also be used as a valuable platform for young activists who might not have a chance to have their voices heard otherwise. Take Ziad Ahmed for example. The eighteen year old runs an impressive social media account highlighting many of the problems that plague today’s society, such as racism, sexism, and anti-semitism. He has been featured in a video produced by the New York Times, has given a Ted Talk, and has also co-founded a youth consulting firm. Teens who use social media to promote their causes gain a much larger audience, opening the door to more opportunities to advocate for what they believe in.

Finally, some teens have been going beyond supporting their candidates of choice for elected offices: they are running themselves.  There is Jack Bergerson, the Wichita teenager who is running to become the Governor of Kansas. He will be running as a Democrat in the 2018 election with a goal to bring a “clean slate” to the state. Meanwhile, other teenagers are taking leaders to court over their beliefs. Twenty-one young people attempted to sue both President Trump and members of his administration over their lack of action regarding the growing threat of climate change in April. Their claim was that their rights to life, liberty and happiness were being violated by an administration who had done nothing to lessen the ever-rising climate change concern. Teens are taking larger stances on today’s top political issues, but are still widely regarded as unimportant.

In conclusion, teens deserve respect for their interest and participation in political movements. We are not second-class citizens due to our age, nor is that any reason to see us as intellectually less.  We are taking an interest in the future of our nation. After all, we’re the ones inheriting it one day.

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