MOUNT AIRY, MD
High school student
Essay themes: Different types of democracy, the importance of democracy, paying attention to young people, the problem of Internet voting
WENDY J JEAN-BART
Essay themes: Different types of democracy, the importance of democracy, paying attention to young people, the problem of Internet voting
Democracy has been one the most debated topic during the past five years of my young life. The media would talk about atrocities being occurred in some countries and in others where elections were being held. During my American Government Class in 9th grade, my dad had demonstrated a keen interest for the subject. We debated the political concepts, explored the "polis" Greek, Magnacarta, the Madison Papers, the French Revolution of 1789 the first human rights bill of its kind. Then my dad would sadly, and proudly talk about his country Haiti the first black republic in the world that has ever had a democratic government, and that has existed for nearly two hundred years. I realized that democracy may be a simple concept but yet multidimensional, with many faces. For us Americans, we see it as the right to vote, to participate actively in our government, for other people, it takes different meaning. In America, we elect one government official to one elective post to conduct the people business, running the government. In France, elected officials are allowed to hold more than one elective post, and yet France remains one of the strongest democracies in the world, where people enjoy the liberty and freedom that Americans enjoy. The British have modified their democracy without giving up the monarchy, a Prime Minister runs the government, the Queen remains a ceremonial figure with no real political power. Great Britain is also a strong democracy with many political parties that participate in the election process.
In America, we have two major political parties, the Republican, and the Democratic parties with a few other minor parties that have not yet had a national impact. The American people every two years elect delegates to Congress, every four years elect the president and the vice president, and each state elects two senators for six years at different time so their mandate does not end at the same time. The participation of the people in the political process without any government interference, is the proof of the vitality of democracy in our country. Everyone is under the same laws, and the people chose their leaders. The pursuit of happiness is an American asset; our democracy has been able to see our country prosper to become the strongest, and the first economy in the world. Democracy then plays a major role in economic development of a country. Almost all of the third world countries where the level of poverty is very high, there is virtually no democracy. Leaders are not elected by the people; very often election results are falsified. Democracy is the key to economic success, is the natural right of a nation to freely choose its leader. It is important to include the young generation that will ensure the survival of the country into the voting process.
In the US the voting age is eighteen, it is a reasonable requirement since most teenagers under eighteen have not yet understood the voting process or have no interest in the political process. The academic community could give more emphasis to student government association to entice young students into the political process. Internet voting represents one big danger for the unity of this nation. This is the only place where Americans meet together reaffirming their belief in one system, one country, under God, indivisible; the Internet may end up being an instrument of division separating the country, deepening the racial, and economic division to a dimension that has yet to be assessed. Independents have not had a strong voice in American politics. The requirements should be more flexible to allow independent to participate without constraints. Steps should also be taken, so the country does not become a farm of political parties that can lead to division. Reform should be made to modify the way political campaigns are financed. Young voters should understand that their vote will have a meaning, not only the big corporations that have a lot of money to finance political campaign.
It is important for young people like me to vote because we are the one who will assume the leadership of this country. The more accustomed we are to political responsibility, the more effective we will be at governing this nation, and continuing the dream of our forefathers.
Essay themes: Government advisory boards of young people, required debates between candidates, increased education on politics
Young people today in the United States do not participate in political events, such as voting, in high volumes. This can be a cause for concern because the younger generation will one day run the country. It is important to encourage young people to be involved. There are a few ways to encourage participation. One is to create government advisory boards consisting of young people. This allows for firsthand information for young people and for significant influence on government activities by young people. A second option is to create mandatory debates among the candidates. This forces candidates to be clear on their positions, and the public obtains information about the candidates. A third way to increase involvement by young people is to boost the study of current events in school, particularly the elementary levels. This option makes students more aware of what is happening around the country. This is important for the next generation because they would then have greater information on which to base decisions when leading the country. Each of these options creates opportunities for young adults to become more involved in politics and elections.
Creating government advisory boards consisting of young people will force the government to focus on issues that are of concern to the younger generation. Gun issues, health care and abortion are all of concern to youth, but political officials focus more on the older generation because the elderly are immediately important. Politics in some ways is farsighted, but in other way is the opposite. A government advisory board makes the government responsible for its actions. It also allows young people to give another perspective on issues affecting the country. There are certain problems in the United States that are the results of gun laws allowing citizens to have guns, that are the results of health care not covering everyone and being expensive. A government advisory board would create alternative solutions. It would also create internship and job opportunities for young people to gain professional experience. Over time, these problems would be solved.
Mandatory debates among the candidates would have serious repercussions for the electoral system. The electoral system no longer includes solely the Electoral College, the voting public and the Democrat and Republican parties. It now includes the media. The media strongly influences the public and how they vote. Media concentrates more on the personalities of the candidates rather than the issues that affect the United States. This allows the candidates to not be clear on their positions on the issues that determine the election. Having mandatory televised debates among the candidates well before the election would give the public more information on which they could vote intelligently and knowledgeably. Debates must be held over a period of time to allow each candidate, not solely the major candidates, an equal forum. This will encourage young people to become more involved in politics because politics will be available for everyone, not just rich people or government employees.
Altering education is a long-term project that will not be immediately effective. It will take time to implement changes in education, but over time, it will be beneficial. Making the changes in education to include more stress on current events will necessitate rewriting of textbooks, but also will increase awareness of issues that affect the nation as a whole. Altering education also utilizes research skills learned in school; children and young adults may be more innovative in creating solutions. Making children more aware of national issues and concerns at an early age increases the possibility that these same children will be involved, in some way, in politics as an adult. This in turn, improves the quality of leadership for future generations. Young adults do not participate actively in politics and elections. Political officials and candidates do not tend to focus on issues pertaining to the younger generation. Three ways to increase youth participation is to create youth advisory boards, make debates among candidates mandatory and include current events more in schools, particularly at the elementary levels. An advisory board creates an opportunity for young adults to be included in and to influence government activities. Mandatory debates allow information about the candidates and their positions on various issues available for the public. Education including more current events increases awareness at an early age of the issues affecting the country. These options will make for improved leadership in the future and increase youth participation.
Essay themes: Required debates, transparency of process for young people
The New Age of Voting
When was the last time your household family members sat together to watch election results or a political debate? For some the answer is never. The answer to youth voting statistics is simple: exposure. Young people are not exposed to governmental issues as much as our parents' and grand parents' generations. Yes, we have classes in school that focus on history and government; however, we are not of age to take part in anything that we read about in our textbooks. While lowering the voting age sounds nice, it is not realistic. Teenagers can't even decide what to wear to school no less who the next president or governor should be. The answer lies within required debates where teens hangout, Election Day voter registration, Internet voting, candid candidate appearances at schools for students, interactive education in history and governmental classes, and family voting, where the entire family goes to the polls. Required debates in teenage environments allow young people to get the inside scoop without having to feel uncomfortable in staunch white-collar settings. Election Day voter registration and Internet voting are both convenient ways to start and or complete the voting process. Political appearances show initiative. When a candidate takes the time to talk to young people, it makes us feel important. I myself received the chance to meet Jack Kemp at a Young College Republicans party. The experience is one that I will never forget simply because he showed up. Interactive education allows students to feel real world responsibilities and consequences without real world power. If high school students participate in mock elections and debates etc., they will learn the importance of the democratic process. Family voting allows the entire family including the youngest child to see what goes on inside of the polls. It is not enough for kids to view their parents voting. Why can't they vote? They don't have to vote for real people. For example, a trained professional would explain to each child the rules of voting in terms a child would understand. The candidates for office could be Minnie Mouse, Barney, and Donald Duck. Mock platforms would be read to each child about the various candidates. At the end of the platform discussion and Q and A time, the child would vote for one of the pretend candidates. Although this may seem time consuming, this is a sure way to get children involved that will hopefully help them become responsible voting citizens. Terminology and syntax are other barriers to youth. Why should anyone participate in anything they can't fully understand? Language often limits a person's ability to feel comfortable in a situation. Teen friendly pamphlets should be written to educate teens about politics in a way they can understand. Furthermore, teens need to be fully exposed to politics. The key to understanding the plummet in youth voting is to understand where youths are in their positions in life. Has anyone ever asked teens what they care about? Why can't politicians state their favorite rock group or place to hangout? While this all seems very informal, and a waste of time, teens care about people as people. Who cares how many political offices you may have held or how many electoral votes you gained. We want to know about a candidate as a person. Teens can decide about a person's character simply from what he or she may like. We tend to relate to those who relate to us. Politicians should be straightforward about things such as use of drugs, premarital sex, and illegal conduct. For teens, we are not looking for a superman figure. We just want someone that seems human. As an African- American female voter, I want someone other than white males or males period, to tell me that they understand my needs. Not only does race and sex matter, but age does also. Why must the president be over, I believe, thirty five years of age? A younger president would draw the attention of younger crowds. While, these factors should not matter in the voting process, they do. The ultimate goal of politicians should be young people. We are the future that they work so hard to create and protect. Remind us of the past. Tell us how African-Americans were not able to vote until about the last century. Tell us how women did not gain the vote until about the 1920's. Explain to us the importance of the voting process. Be examples. Don't skip voting on vital issues. Lastly, help us to understand. Don't belittle us because we don't.