Students Should Be More Involved in the Political Discussion


Matthew Denaro, Staff Writer

For many students, November 4 was the end of a four-day weekend.  But for the politically-inclined students, it was a night of fascinating races culminating in the GOP taking control of the Senate, and maintaining control of the House of Representatives. With student loan debt and minimum wage reform among the topics of discussion, one would expect students to be an expanding voice in the political conversation. However, political adolescents are few and far between. Why are teens driven away from politics even though these are issues that directly influence their future?

Politics can be an extremely divisive issue within families. Most young people can identify at least one relative who brings up the latest hot-button political issue during family gatherings. Many times this splits the family, leaving those who are unaware or ill-informed, much of the time the minors, caught in the crossfire. Although it should be obvious that these issues will impact students in the not-so-distant future, or are already impacting them, it is difficult not to associate politics with fighting within their family.  High school students can be easily turned off by this dissension.

The magnitude of races for major governmental positions including congressional elections alone can be intimidating. When you add gubernatorial and local elections, keeping track of all races becomes an extremely daunting task. In the 2014 midterm cycle, there were 36 senate contests and 435 elections to decide the new House of Representatives. This is an amount far too large to keep track of adequately by most adults, let alone high school students. However, most of these races were not very close and by most peoples’ standards, including those who are interested in national politics, boring. This shrinks the amount of races worth looking at to a much less intimidating number. But the apathy still exists.

There has to be something than can spark political interest among high school students. Increased awareness about the political system is essential.  If the average high school student is not well informed, then it is likely that the changes that are necessary in politics will not take place, further exacerbating the problem. Students need to see recent examples of government at its best, to dispel any worries about the system being flawed, and examples of government at its worst, to show the need for new, but powerful, voices in American politics. Another solution to raising the political IQ of high school students is lowering the voting age. For the vote for Scottish independence, 16-year-olds were franchised and in turn, impacted the vote greatly. According to the BBC, over 100,000 16 and 17-year olds had registered to vote in the referendum.   Lowering the voting age to 16 or 17 could provide an impetus for American students to do the same as their Scottish counterparts. Young people have enacted change in America before, and can continue to do so, but only if the society demands change.