Shari Boiskin
Shari Boiskin

Get With the (Political) Program!

Teenagers are infamous for being nonchalant, careless, and recalcitrant (that was one of my SAT words!).

Sure, some of that is true. There are things that I, as a 16 year old, could care less about, but one of those is not politics.

Most teenagers at my high school would agree with me on this, regardless of where they stand politically, or if they stand no where at all: politics are important. As teenagers, we will be the ones living out the mistakes of current politicians. Baby Boomers will not be around forever, and Generation X-ers are getting older. Thus, it is important to the nth degree that teenagers are not only interested, but educated and involved in politics.

With few exceptions, most teenagers that I know immediately reject Donald Trump. They cite the idea that he is a fascist, a racist; a sexist. However, besides the fact that he wants to “ban Muslims” and build a wall along the Mexican border, how much does the average teenager know about him? While I do not – under any circumstance – support Trump, but I believe that it is important for everyone to be informed about his beliefs.

On the other side of the spectrum lies Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed Socialist. People need to understand that Socialism is not the same thing as Communism. And, one shouldn’t just vote for Hilary Clinton because she’s a woman or because of Bill.

Many of the kids in my grade will be voting in the next election, and it scares me that many of these potential voters know nothing about the candidates. In a Gallup poll from 2005 where 13-17 year olds were questioned, most said they’d vote the way that their parents vote.

The results of the poll.
The results of the poll.

“…Today’s young people are exceptionally bonded to their parents,” said Phillip Longman, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. “At the same time, the notion that society is ever seriously torn by generational conflict is probably overblown. I, too, am a child of the 1960s and 70s, and so the harmony that exists today between parents and their children does seem a bit strange compared to my own rebellious youth. But even among baby boomers, those who wound up having children have turned out to be remarkably similar to their parents in their attitudes about ‘family’ values.”

When it comes to voting in a national election – or any election for that matter – one should not, say, vote Republican because that’s what one’s parents do. One should vote because he or she is politically informed, and understands and takes seriously the issues and candidates being voted upon.

Too many Americans are apathetic to the political climate of our nation. Many Americans do not even know the candidates that are running in the 2016 Presidential election and the topics that they are bringing up. In fact, many Americans, if asked, could probably not even tell you who the vice-president is right now, or the name of their state’s governor. This is a real shame.

An incredibly effective way to make students knowledgeable about politics and the government is to require public school students to take intensive courses on the government process, law, the judicial system; the political parties, and discuss current national and international events. This would lend to better informed voters and a more active political system.

We, teenagers, are the future of this country. This is a wake up call for my peers: be informed, don’t be apathetic, know the laws; be aware of the issues. To the adults and any politician who may be reading this: by investing in teenagers, you help create a better America. As Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

People need to participate in government and politics. Our government is of the people, by the people; for the people. Every vote counts – including teenage votes.

About the Author
Shari is from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. From January until June of 2015, she studied abroad in Israel on the Tichon Ramah Yerushaliyim (TRY) program.