Why young people need to get involved in politics


Patrick Finnegan

Students at a gay rights protest in Amsterdam

Griffin Parker, Social Media Editor

I have seen a lot online and on television recently about how young people, like me, need to get involved with politics, so I’ve been paying attention to the election. I thought it was a good idea to get involved since I’ll be voting in 2024, so I might as well know how all this politics stuff works. I even went to my first political rally a few weeks ago.

Being a young adult, I wanted to see a candidate who’s been getting attention from young people, and the first candidate I could think of was Andrew Yang. Yang jumped out at me because he has some radical ideas that I find fascinating, and I’ve tended to lean left in my thinking, so he seemed like a good start. Going to the rally, I expected to see a lot of young people there. When I arrived, I was shocked to see that almost everyone was in their 50s or older. It seemed like I was the only person there under the age of 30.

After seeing the lack of younger people at this rally which was supposedly for younger people, I looked up some statistics on the ages of voters, and according to the US Census Bureau, less than 50% of people aged 18 to 29 register to vote, but more than 70% of people older than 65 vote. Our country is being run and decisions are being made by people that probably won’t be around to see how it all ends up going. All these resolutions are being made to benefit the older population while ignoring the needs of younger people. It’s falling on us younger people to fix it, but we haven’t been paying attention.

A US Census Bureau report on the ages of voters in the last 40 years.

According to the Census Bureau, people under 40 make up half the population of this country. The population from age 18-39 has twice the population as age 65+, yet the old people vote in higher numbers. Us young people want to make a change, yet we aren’t showing up to vote to actually make that change.

We do all this complaining about how the government hates us and is out to get us, but have we ever stopped to think that we can actually do something about it instead of sitting there? We want change, right? So why aren’t we doing anything?

If you want change, then do something. Go to political rallies. Organize a protest for something you believe in.

Fairfax county in Virginia is now allowing students one excused absence per school year for “civic engagement activity,” a.k.a. political activism, no questions asked. This is what needs to happen all over the country. Students celebrated Fairfax for making this change. Why is this county is receiving backlash from parents and conservatives? The parents are saying that their children are too young to be involved and the conservatives are saying that the children don’t know what they are doing. Are they scared that their children will want to actually do something to make their lives meaningful? These children are growing up in a world that is making them feel like they have no rights and freedom, and now we are shutting them down even more.

We should be pushing for this to be allowed everywhere across the country. We need this. We shouldn’t be punishing students for standing up for what they believe.

To parents: if your child wants to get involved with politics and be an activist, let them. Don’t deny them their freedoms and rights. Your children need to get involved if they want to be able to influence major political decisions. Do you think Greta Thunberg’s parents tried to stop her from speaking out? No way! They encouraged her to be active in her beliefs, and look where she is now.

So parents, let your children be active. And students, be active. Go to protests. Do whatever you need to do to stand up for your beliefs. Because in the end, it’s up to you to make the changes you want to see.