AVRIL EASTAMPTON, NJ
High school student
Essay themes: Vote by Internet, phone, or fax, mandatory candidate debates
Essay themes: Vote by Internet, phone, or fax, mandatory candidate
The deciding factor in gaining young peoples' votes will be allowing them to have a sense of freedom while voting, and a connection with the candidates. The popularity of shows like TRL* and the Teen Choice Awards*, show that young people do like to vote for their opinions, but they must feel that the topics are relevant to them, meaning, worth voting for. Some ways to encourage young people to vote could be allowing them to vote while in their homes. Voting by Internet, mail, fax and telephone (the methods used for the Teen Choice Awards/TRL) would most likely increase participation among young voters. Using a secure voter registration number, young voters would be able to vote in the comfort of their homes, making the actual voting process only a few minutes. To expand this new sense of freedom while voting, the voting day could be extended to one voting week. Meaning that young people would have an entire week to decide when they felt like voting. This would lessen the chance that voters would restrain from voting due to a huge homework load on voting day, a basketball game 2 hours away or a friend's get together.
With the new sense of freedom, there must also come a new motivation to use the freedom. Young people must feel that they understand what each candidate stands for, and more importantly, what kind of person the candidate really is. One way to do this could be to make debates obligatory between all presidential candidates, in addition to voters' participation in the topics being debated. How would this work? Half of the time allotted for debating between the candidates, would be spent debating questions or topics submitted (at home of course) by a viewer. The questions and topics would have to be screened before being proposed to the candidates, however, it would be a rule that at least 3 questions called in or typed in by a viewer would be discussed by the candidates. This would encourage young people by presenting the possibility that their question could be directly influential on the candidates' campaigning. This would make young people want to tune into the debates and possibly get to ask the candidates questions that would have to be answered on the spot, without any preparation.
The voting reforms that I have discussed would encourage myself, in addition to most young people I know, to vote. I'm 16, and will be voting in 2 years, so I currently pay some attention to what the presidential candidates stand for. The reason that I don't pay more attention is because the debates are usually very long and impersonal. If the debates were interactive, I would probably watch just to see what kind of candid questions would be asked, and to see how the candidates would respond. Seeing the candidates responding directly to potential voters would help me to gain a better picture of the candidate's personality and ability to act consistently under pressure. I would want to know that the candidates would have to consider the opinions of the people at home, because without them, they couldn't be elected.
Having the new voting procedures of extending the voting day to a week and allowing at home voting would make voting a flexible, although still important, activity. I would enjoy knowing that I wouldn't have to vote on the one designated voting day, I could decide that on Friday I would vote before, say, going to the movies. Doing this would make voting a common activity, not an isolated duty. The truth is that most people in general don't like to be told exactly when or how to do something. Just having the options makes the act of voting much more appealing.
When dealing with young people, utilizing technology is one sure way to increase participation in any activity. I've voted online for awards shows, and watched TRL after school on many occasions--so have most of my friends. Imagine all of the young people that watch these interactive shows joining together to vote and watch debates. Voting could become mainstream, and voter participation could be at record high numbers. The key is making young people feel as though they have some control over what's occurring, with both the candidates and themselves. This would definitely increase political participation by young people. * TRL is a show on MTV that counts down the top 10 music videos of the day as voted in by viewers at home through email, fax and telephone. * The Teen Choice Awards is an awards show that allows teens to vote for their favorite actors and performers through mail and the internet. The result is an awards show based on the polls.
The reason why people, like myself, are not voting today is not the same stereotypical reason as estimated by politicians. At the age of nine I arrived to this country. The moment I stepped off that plane I knew that this was the opportunity my family and me were awaiting for many long years. Unfortunately, I later discovered that even though I had strong desires to be a part of this country, it would never come to a realization. I have lived here for 9 years, I am now 18 years old. I am a resident of the United States and I am currently not allowed to vote. Unlike many of the born citizens of this country, I want my voice to be heard. I want to be able to vote for whom I believe would steer our country in the right direction. Regardless of whether politicians facilitate the voting process for young Americans, the fact is that if these people are not educated enough to realize that the reason this country is the head of the world is because is ran by the people. It would not make a difference if the voting becomes available on the Internet or in the habitant's doorstep, if a baby chooses not to eat; he won't, even if he is spoon-fed. These voting representatives need to worry about the people that don't want to vote. The real focus here is the people that want to make a difference, but they can't. I believe if a person is a resident of the United States and is currently attending College or any degree school, they should have the right to be heard. After all, the reason why this country has been so successful gratifies the minority that attribute a major part to the community.
Essay themes: Education
As the twenty-first Century begins, it becomes more and more essential that our youth are better educated and aware of the political world. Even though the information age has created a faster paced life, youth are still in need of moral leadership. The disappointing leadership in federal government has influenced our youth in a negative way. Children need to learn why our country is the way it is and how it is politically operated. This can be accomplished in many ways by utilizing our educational system and by developing programs for the surrounding communities. At any level of education, students should be educated on the current events in politics. One method where this could be accomplished is by incorporating a Politics class into the high school curriculum. This class would cover many aspects of politics, describing the levels of leadership and its influence nationally and internationally. The class could feature a virtual setting where a government would be set up and run by the students. The students would have to solve many of the same problems that any country faces today. For example, in this class the students could be involved in nationwide elections concerning not only the Presidency but also several seats in its Congress. The election could be conducted throughout the entire school to get the student body involved in the topic. This idea is even more beneficial now because of the presidential elections that are just around the corner. This fall will be a perfect opportunity for our schools to utilize the elections as a beneficial learning experience to all students. During the presidential elections, a school wide private election could be conducted. Research could be done before hand to see what the school thinks would be the best course for our country in the next four years. The study of Politics should include various forms of governments, from a left wing communist party to a right wing fascist dictatorship. Different political ideologies often support different views of how involved a government should be in its operation. Liberals generally support an active role for the federal government whereas conservatives support economic and political opportunity that is unrestricted by the involvement of the federal government. In the United States, the Democratic Party is generally considered a liberal party and the Republican Party is generally considered conservative. Other parties and groups, such as, the Democratic Socialists, the Reform Party, and the Christian Coalition fall to the right or left of these two main parties. All these aspects are important for a student to learn because in order for our youth to understand our government, we must also learn about the different ideologies that affect the U.S. government. Current History classes do this, but not to the level and extent that this class would. A Politics class in our country's curriculum would give our youth the incentive they need to become jump started early into realizing the political importance that they will play in the future. Another method that our communities could use to further develop our youth's interest in politics could be to construct a program that could give kids the chance to watch our local political figures in action. This program could help our children at all levels to examine not only what our leaders do but to see the importance of it all. The program could allow kids to evaluate political figures like, the local mayor, the State's governor, senators, and House Representatives. Through this program, our youth could see how our government is run and how an individual could effect that government. It can also teach students how laws are passed, confrontations are resolved and other such political problems. Our youth can also learn that even though we are just one of millions in the U.S., by writing letters and showing an interest we too can make a difference. Currently, I applaud the Student Government Association at my school because it gives kids a chance to learn the process first hand and to appreciate it. However, in order for this to continue I feel that an incentive should be established so that more are involved. Maybe more power should be given to heads of each class so that they can make more of an impression on their peers. This will encourage more students to interact with their class leaders. This will lead to a better all around school because the student leaders will really be able to make a difference for the better of the student body. Another change in the current political system would be to adopt election by popular vote rather than the current system of Electoral College vote. Current technology makes it possible through the Internet to allow voting for political offices and major referendum decisions using the popular vote process. Young adults would then be able to see that their direct involvement through the popular vote will result in political change. These idea will help to boost our youth into the politics of the twenty-first Century. It is important that we excite our youth now on the topic of politics so that they will enable our country to flourish in the future. You never know if a small child you encounter one day may eventually become the next President of the United States of America.
Essay themes: Ad campaigns, increased attention to young people's issues
2000 Turn On, Tune In, Get to The Polls
The turnout of young voters is decreasing every Election Day for the same reason thousands of Americans slam their doors in the faces of Jehovah's Witnesses every month; many young voters are simply and justifiably not interested in voting because they have no one to vote for who is concerned with the same issues they are. The average, teenaged layman does not care about campaign finance reform, tax reform, or welfare reform. In fact, the word "reform" itself denotes a rather dense and uninteresting process that turns many young people off. Many argue that young voters may be turned on in the next Presidential election by the ongoing gun control issue, but not even this issue concerns all that many young voters because of the simple fact that most young voters are liberal and believe in as much individual liberty as possible.
The above arguments having been made, the issue to be examined is what will get more young voters to the polls this November and those following. To steal and manipulate a common quote from the 1960s, young voters must be turned on, tuned in, and encouraged to get to the polls. The turning on step entails getting them to leave the door open, so to speak, meaning the first thing to be done is to get young voters interested in political issues. As difficult and outright challenging as this idea may seem, it can be done with relative simplicity. There is one thing that will get any young voter to listen to anything, and that is money. If politicians were to amend their platforms by adding such issues as scholarships, tax credits for working college students, and more easily gotten bank loans with lower interest rates for automobiles and homes for college students, it is assured that more young voters would actually pay attention to political races. In short, politicians simply need to address the concerns of young voters, just as they do with older voters. As it stands right now, most politicians view young voters as an insignificant force, but would greatly benefit from trying to give those voters what they need and want.
The second step in getting more young voters to vote is a little more difficult, for it entails actually getting those voters to believe what they are hearing from politicians. It is harder in the sense that it requires politicians to put their money where their mouths are; not because it is intrinsically difficult to get a young person to believe something he or she hears. While it is true that a political hopeful for any given office cannot do what he or she hopes to do in office before he or she actually gets into that office, it is also true that the hopeful can prove that given the chance he or she will follow through with his or her platform by simply signing into a contract with the American people. Although the idea of a contract may seem weak and has been attempted and failed in some form in the past, its value is insurmountable if implemented correctly. If one of the main clauses of the contract is to be that the political hopeful who signs it will be open for a swift removal should he or she avoid following through on his or her platform, there is a clear incentive for both the candidate to adhere to his or her platform as well as for young voters to trust him or her.
The last step involved in ensuring more young voters get to the polls from now on is to actually push them to get there. Given the situation that they are already interested in a current political race and even believe to a reasonable extent what politicians are telling them, all that is needed to get them to the polls is an overwhelming amount of reminders. One of the best ways, if not the best way, to overwhelm and remind Americans of something is through the press. Simple 5x7 index cards that read, "NOVEMBER 7, 2000-ELECTION-BE THERE" mailed to registered young voters, a few commercials on MTV, and banners on Yahoo!. and AOL Instant Messenger. expressing similar messages would undoubtedly ensure a much larger turnout of young voters than in the recent past. Although such an advertising campaign may prove to be expensive, there is no question that the cost would be more justified, necessary, and useful than a majority of the plethora of current advertising campaigns.
In sum, politicians want more votes, many young voters want more political involvement, and everyone wants a bigger voter turnout. The key to appease all of these issues is for politicians to speak the language of young voters, to appeal to what they need and want from their government, and to let them know that their votes are wanted and needed by reminding them to actually vote. There is no official rule that it must be difficult for politicians to appeal to young voters. In fact, it can be rather simple. All politicians must learn is that the only reform young voters are concerned with is the reform to pay as much attention to younger voters as there it paid to older ones. Given reforms such as those that have been described herein, a large number of young voters would greatly benefit from the education that can be gotten from an increased awareness of political America, more young voters in America will get what they want out of life, and more politicians will be in touch with the general population of the most powerful nation in the world. Everyone knows that there is nothing wrong with everyone getting what he or she wants, so there is no reason for such reforms to not be pursued.
Essay themes: Bring politics into classrooms and make it relevant
Normally, I am always up for a good argument. I have a particularly fun time debating in my second period history class, because I can change sides quicker than a chameleon changes colors. If I start out with one opinion, I can easily alter that opinion to the opposite side, with enough facts to back either. However, when my history teacher sparked a seemingly simple discussion on who we thought could win the next presidential election, we were literally speechless. In one collective sigh, the whole class had abruptly died out. The usually vehement protestors were quiet, and the question seemed to just hang in the air. We didn't know, and possibly some of us didn't even care, about something so very important in our futures.
I'm not really sure when political participation decreased so greatly by young people, or for that matter, why. I can vividly remember my first grade class having an election between The Cherries and The Bananas. I strongly supported The Bananas, who won, so it was a successful experience for me. Yet, as far as I can recall, that was my first, and last political endeavor in the classroom.
I know how to take the second derivative of a linear function in order to determine its concavity. I can also calculate the projectile motion of a bowling ball. But one thing I sadly cannot do is to make an educated choice as to who I would pick for President of the United States. What I am trying to prove here, is that kids DO pay attention in school, and we obviously do learn things. But unfortunately, we cannot dictate what we learn, and that's where the problems come in.
The ever popular, "When are we ever going to use this in real life?" whine is quite prominent in every classroom. Who is really shocked to hear it when we are computing advanced calculus? But political issues are very important in "real life," and they are the subjects most lacking in our classes. This is why we should prepare a full-fledged campaign to bring political elections and reforms into the classroom.
Kids are rebellious by nature-especially teen-agers. They are extremely vehement about freedom and independence. They don't want to be told what to do, or especially what to think. I know. I live the life. That's how I know that we want to learn what's going on in the world around us, and how we can make it better for our children. We want to know about candidates and what they stand for, but frankly, we don't care too much about Medicare and social security. Sure, it may affect us in the future, but we are Generation X, we live in the here and now. We want to know about George W. Bush's views on abortion. We care about what Bill Bradley has to say about drugs and alcoholism. We want our teachers to enlighten us and give us these valuable pieces of information that will directly affect our lives.
It's very hard to keep a teen-ager's attention during a seemingly never-ending State of the Union Address. But if we can instead discuss it in school the next day, we may just become interested. It is much easier to discuss it with our peers and teachers, and we don't have to bother stopping hundreds of times for applause. I doubt that lowering the voting age would do much good for anyone, since you have to be mature in order to understand these issues and be able to talk about them. I enjoy waiting until I am eighteen, because I see it as a privilege I would like to prepare for.
If we can learn more about politics when we are young, our futures, as well as the future of our country, will undoubtedly soar. Let's make a difference and bring more politics into the classroom. We are ready and willing to learn, we are just crying out for someone to teach us. We will follow by example. As tomorrow's leaders, we MUST start today.
Essay themes: Young people's cynicism towards government, Internet voting, inspiring young people to organize It is a bit of a misconception that the United States has always considered voting to be a 'virtuous' goal of our nation. From the birth of our nation, most people did not have the right to vote. Women, blacks, as well as many whites, who did not own substantial property, were among groups who were discriminated against, and were not considered to be deserving of the 'privilege' of voting. It is strange that young people need to be told that the right to vote should be celebrated and not be taken for granted. Today, a disconnect seems to exist between the ideal of free ballot access, and the reality of today's young person taking a few minutes out of their busy schedule on Election Day to vote.
Although suffrage has been extended to include virtually all adults over the age of 18, young people today feel a frustration when it comes to believing that their vote makes any real difference, and do not vote as often as other age groups. This belief is not without foundation. Congress today seems to be more concerned with partisan bickering and electioneering than doing the People's work. Many of the most important issues of today, such as Social Security and Medicare reform, are seemingly delayed and ignored by elected officials, content to allow the baby-boomer generation be supported through entitlements by a younger generation, that statistics show do not have the necessary numbers to support the Baby Boomers when they retire. In part, this reluctance of elected officials to reform entitlements is due to a current Catch-22 that exists, whereas; (1) Young people generally do not vote to the same degree as other age groups thus, (2) Elected officials do not go to the same lengths in protecting the interests of young people, as they do, say with the elderly through organizations such as the AARP which then, (3) Breeds cynicism by young people that the government is not interested in protecting the rights of the younger generation, which contributes to the, (4) Original Catch-22 reason that young people believe that it is not important to vote in the first place. So what is one to do to break this cycle of apparent apathy? Truth be told, young people are today less apathetic and more active than perhaps ever before, volunteering their free time for various types of community and civic programs. So what can be done to translate this volunteer activism to inducing young people to civic activism through the power of the vote? The explanation is not to be found in one simple answer. New federal voter registration laws, such as a recent Amendment to the Higher Education Act, which extended "Motor-voter" to include public universities and colleges as voter registration agencies are a good first start. But getting young people out to vote will require more effort than the first step of simply getting young people registered to vote.
One good prospect to increase young people voting would be to use modern technology to permit voting through the Internet. Once the Internet has achieved almost 100% ubiquity in American homes, as well as a safe and effect method has been developed and accepted by the American populace that would properly encrypt voting tabulations and prevent fraud, Internet voting could conceivably become a reality. There have been some pilot uses of the Internet as a voting tool, but such uses are still in their infancy, and concern nevertheless exists as to whether this new 'ease' in voting will actually strengthen the foundations of democracy. Still, it would require new laws before Internet voting becomes a reality. However, the best way to increase voting among young people is not through trying to change the methods of voting, but through the tried and true method of organizing. Ordinarily, young people will probably never achieve the same participatory rates as other voting groups. Research shows that it is not until a person begins to pay taxes, gets married, has a couple of kids, who grow up and then go to school, does a person see the need to get involved with the local aspects of their community, and start to vote on a regular basis, including for school board elections. Certain types of persuasive leaders, such as John F. Kennedy, or to cite a more recent example, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, have illustrated that it is possible for young people to organize for a political purpose, and accomplish something meaningful. However, with the apparent stranglehold that money has on politics today, young people do not exhibit the capital and resources to effectively use their monetary strengths to participate in government, and effectuate public policy. Should a persuasive and transformational leader emerge who truly represents the interests of young people, perhaps the cycle of non-voting could then be broken.
What is, however, necessary, to create lasting change would be a newfound respect and desire to organize politically. From there, young people would be more likely to vote on regular basis, despite not having those immediate concerns about property taxes and schools that most other adults have. Increased voter registration and Internet voting, would be conducive to helping achieve this goal, but this would not have the fundamental effect in increasing voter turnout, without that needed aspiration by young people to have a more concrete role in directing public policy and in the governance of our nation. This is what would be necessary to stop the cycle of non-voting among young people.
Essay themes: Constituent loyalty, two-party system, media
It has been well over two hundred years since Thomas Jefferson idealistically predicted that an "aristocracy of talent" would lead the world's first democratic republic to greatness. While, as Jefferson predicted, the United States has reached greatness, his hope that politicians would be elected solely on the basis of their "virtue and talents" is slowly being eroded by our two-party system in the television age.
It is because voters are often unable to choose who they feel is both worthy and represents their values that voter participation has steadily decreased among young voters. Today, elections are not necessarily won because of merit, value, or talents. In an age where candidates seek to inundate voters with expensive television advertisements of little substance, elections are won because a candidate has the most money. Elections do not consist of a plethora of candidates, each who represents a different cross-section of society or set of values. They consist of two people who have each received a coronation from a few select party leaders. For example, over a year before the next presidential election, leaders from both parties began to close ranks around their respective frontrunner. While our republic is based on the premise that citizens elect politicians to represent their values and ideas in the legislature and the executive branches, nearly every election consists of two choices: to vote for the nominee from one of the two major parties or to throw one's vote away by voting for a third-party candidate.
Would Jefferson be content with a "democracy" where only candidates with tens of millions of dollars can have their voices heard? Would Jefferson stand complacent as candidates' party loyalties and not necessarily dedication to his or her constituents are rewarded with a presidential nomination?
Voter participation will not increase until these problems are addressed. In order to combat the ever-increasing need for large sums of money to run a successful campaign, stricter fundraising limits must be placed on all local, state, and national elections. Total fundraising must be capped at a reasonable level that can be reached without the help of party machinery or corporate donations; thus, putting third-party candidates on par with those from the major parties. In order for these fundraising limits not to hamper the candidate's ability to communicate with the electorate, the government must provide additional, equal funds to all candidates at the fundraising cap. Further, the television industry must provide free time slots for advertisements and debates, giving each of the aforementioned candidates equal exposure.
If these reforms are enacted, candidates of all parties would have the opportunity to stand on equal footing with relatively minimal fundraising. Candidates would no longer be indirectly judged on their fundraising prowess or political connections, but on their message. Only then will voter participation rise as the electorate is faced with new, viable candidates and parties that represent them. Only then, will Jefferson's dream of an "aristocracy of talent" be fulfilled.
Essay themes: Communication between government officials and constituents, Internet voting
There is what I call the American idea .... This idea demands, as the proximate organization thereof, a democracy, -- that is, a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people. On these values, a course of government for the principles of eternal justice, the unchanging law of God, shall be forged. For shortness' sake I will call it the idea of Freedom. -Theodore Parker
As American citizens, we are assured of a government whose sole purpose lies in the best interests of the people that it governs. But how can we expect a government with a basis as such to work correctly if there is no response from its source of power, the people? In recent years, the political participation by the youth of our nation has plummeted severely. The lack of political involvement by today's youth is a serious issue, one that needs to be remedied immediately. A democratic government that derives its authority from its people requires participation from all in order to sustain an unbiased view. Democracy is a powerful government with enormous potential; yet it can only achieve to the level of its weakest link, the decline of youths utilizing their power to vote.
Communication is key in any relationship, the bond between the government and the governed being no exception. The government has voiced its concern towards the lagging youth involvement in politics; now it is our turn as young citizens to respond. It is obvious that there will be no immediate "cure-all" to boost the number of youth actively voting, but perhaps a multi-faceted plan could be implemented, hinging upon the technological surge of the late 90's. The Internet has become a prominent medium for the nation's youth to express themselves, so why should we not jump on this remarkable opportunity to introduce them to the various political candidates, their campaigns, and the topics of debate? Sometimes even the most complex of problems can be solved with a simple solution.
By utilizing the explosive growth of the Internet, especially amongst the younger generation, an unprecedented awareness of political issues could be unleashed. It is a proven fact that people as a whole relate better to physical objects as opposed to concepts left to their minds' discretion. With this in thought, candidates could effectively have that desired relationship with the American public via the Internet in the form of debates or even personal interviews that could be broadcast online. Town meetings can be regionalized and even nationalized by virtue of online access and convenience. A recent school district issue was decided in part by virtue of Internet referendum. It allowed for a far greater sense of connection and hence, participation, than any actual meeting in one place or time could have accomplished. Bearing in mind that communication is best carried out on the level of the recipient, what better way to reach the minds of our young people than through the medium of their era? No doubt that with a wider sense of personalization, as guaranteed by the Internet, our youth will be drawn to learn more about the issues that have become increasingly convenient, accessible and interactive.
If conducted correctly, Internet voting could potentially cause exponential growth in voter turnout. It is quite easy to lose focus in our lives that are becoming continually more rushed day by day. During these times, we tend to omit those things that do not appear as immediate problems. Voting in current elections has haplessly fallen into this category, especially throughout the younger community, being deemed as "unimportant" for its lack of personalization. But with online voting, which could be completed in mere minutes, this would no longer be the case. Even when we feel voting to be no more than a burden, we can be reassured that we are never too busy to cast our vote for the betterment of our lives and nation, particularly when it can be done in the comfort of our homes through online voting.
As always, the youth are the embodiment of our nation's future. By implementing a two-pronged attack with an emphasis on promotion and results, we may find our youth's rate of participation gaining momentum. No longer will political involvement of our nation's youth continue to plummet with the increase of Internet political awareness. The potential is immeasurable, but the result is not; expand youth participation through the media of their era, the Internet.
Essay themes: Candidates focus their discussion of issues on those relevant to older voters, changes in campaign tactics
Today's youth, more than ever, live in their own world, related to but separate from the world of adults. They have their own music, their own fashion, and their own ideas. They have their own culture - distinct, not in that it is identified by set of criteria or features, but in that it is clearly something different from anything the world has ever seen before. Today's youth is not merely a group of rebellious teenagers striking out at the communities in which they live, work, and play. It is not just a fad or a means of gaining attention for its own sake. No, today's youth are educated, conscientious, and aware. They are not afraid of standing up for what they believe, and they demand the respect that they know they deserve in doing so. They are individuals; they are proud; and they charge the adult constituency to regard them as equals.
Today's youth culture is not limited to the teenage years either. Rather it encompasses most of the American population from their early teens through their late twenties. Politics, for many young people, seems aloof. The issues on which candidates focus rarely concern the youngest generation of eligible voters. As important as taxes may be, today's youth is interested in candidates' stand on environmental issues, and their plans to act on their convictions. They care about racial and sexual injustices, which to many young people seem entirely foreign, but which to others are still an everyday obstacle. While political figures often speak of school reforms - have any of them walked through the halls of some of the poorer public schools in Harlem were the children have no books and there is no money in the budget for paper for the photocopier? These are things in which the youth of America is interested. They also have strong opinions about more controversial issues such as the death penalty, abortion, and foreign policies. Many of today's young people have had some sort of experience with at least one of these issues. Yet the concerns of young people, as well as their opinions, are so often overlooked.
Do politicians really think they know about the generations which will run this great nation in the future? As one of today's young people, I would have to say that we do not feel they do. It is not even so much that we are turned away from, but that we are not attracted to become involved in the political operation of our country. We are so involved and immersed in our own worlds, that politicians do need to make an effort for us to care much at all. They ought to be willing to enter into the world of America's youth and converse with us from within. They should work to target younger audiences through already present means, including magazines, television, and radio which are geared toward the younger members of the population. This will also have lasting effects, for children who are not yet eligible voters will be more educated and informed as they are always interested in that which concerns their elder peers. As they come of voting age, they will already know more about what is going on, and will be more eager to get involved.
We, as a generation, are very cautious of frauds and imitations. Be honest with us; be open. Let us know your stance on issues, and not only what you think we want to hear. Tell us how changes in taxes and social security benefits will affect us. Be perceptive to our concerns and questions; be open to our ideas. An unusually large proportion of America's youth remains detached from all aspects of politics. Not only do we feel excluded in the concerns, many people feel like they cannot make a difference. This issue also needs to be addressed in a very straightforward manner. I would campaign for lowering the eligibility for elected officers, especially Congressmen, but more than just admitting people with later birth dates, the American government needs to be more aware of the youth culture within.
However, the most radical change I am proposing is a different attitude in the manner in which campaigning is done. Just over one hundred years ago, the method of campaigning changed from the "front-door approach" into today's "go-out-and-get-it" tactless mudslinging approach - a despicable saga which the country must witness every election year for the majority of the months preceding the election itself, a saga in which the participants should be ashamed to be involved. Where have the glory, honor, and pride on which this country was founded gone?
More and more, American society, in general, and its youth, in particular, do not care especially about which party gets reelected (except for, of course, those who will be directly affected within the parties). We have become more concerned with getting things done. We do not care as much who leads us into greatness so long as we work through reforms and get there. Tell us who you are, what you stand for, what you plan to do, and why we should elect you. There is enough gossip, scandal, bigotry, and pointing-of-fingers going on without the input of politics and politicians. Also, after a while and after all that we have seen and heard, theatrics do not impress us. Most importantly, simply try to be honest and respect us. And we will respect you.
Essay themes: Student's aren't educated about the importance of democracy and address issue of concern to the age bracket, changing lifestyle for teens with more stress
When asked the questions: "What is the difference between the Democratic Party, Republican Party and Reform Party? What does each stand for? And how do you feel about each party's stance?" 4 out of 5 students did not have an answer. Many did not know the candidates or issues being brought to the surface of the approaching political races, either.
This is a major problem. In order for younger generations to understand and support political parties and politicians they must first understand the purpose and meaning behind the whole thing. In order to gain students' interest in politics each party must find a way to reach out to America's youth. Each party should fund a program to educate students on each party, the parties' purposes, and the parties' goals. This program could be an advantage to politicians by providing a "first-hand" account of students' concerns and questions. It could also be advantageous by making it known to students that their opinion and questions matter and are important.
In order to increase political participation among the young people of today's society, issues that directly concern American youths must be addressed. As a present high school student, one of the most pressing factors on the minds of students is college and monies for college. Although healthcare and welfare are important they are not active parts of every member of society's lives. Developing ways to help in the funding of all types of students' education would definitely attract the attention of 21st century teens. Forming program or forum could help to decipher the exact issues concerned with funding a college education. Thus, politicians will gain better understanding and clear knowledge of what students and young adults want and need.
Another method of gaining support and participation would be to include teens in decision-making processes. Anti-drug, anti-alcohol, anti-smoking and anti-sex campaigns are effectively getting the messages across; but including teens in local government, state government and discussion committees that directly effect the lives of teens would be a valuable and strategic move. Real teens, not only straight "A" and honor roll students, but a variety, must be chosen to represent the teen community in bringing to politicians' and lawmakers' attention the questions, the problems, the concerns, and the occurrences that today's teens face. The goals of reaching out, including, and directly addressing teens and their concerns could be reached faster and much easier.
Another pressing issue besides money is stress. According to The CONTACT TeenLine, the 1 leading causes of suicide among teens is untreated depression and overwhelming stress. Teenagers today are among the most stressed members of society. Devising ways to help teens deal with and overcome stress would benefit the lives of many young people enormously. Some signs of potential suicide caused by extreme stress include: Persistent sad or "empty" moods, fatigue, loss of interest in ordinary activities, disturbances in eating and sleeping patterns, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions, and many more. At least five out of these nine signs are a major part in the life of modern day American teen. These are sad but very true facts that need to be addressed before many more young people die, or fall into deep despair. This is important because the healthy teens of today will make a healthy future for tomorrow. Recent evidences of stress and alienation of teens have been seen in the news events of the past several months. Tragedies such as Columbine and other episodes of teen violence show that America's youth is disaffected with society.
In general, most teens and young adults feel that they are not important and do not have a "voice" in politics. Explaining that each opinion is crucial and makes a difference will help young adults and teens understand that participation in their government will be extremely beneficial. I, as a student, am more concerned with getting into and paying for college than the coming election in which I will be able to vote. Although many of my fellow students and I know that the elections are important they have not caused much interest in any of us. When I asked a few students how they felt about the politicians their responses were very similar. They said, "Politicians don't care about real people. They care about the people with money and not the younger ones. They don't make an effort to understand what the younger generation needs."
Giving students a chance to truly take part and feel essential in other aspects of politics besides voting will increase interest, support and participation. Feeling "left-out," ignored, and not needed are major reasons behind the decreased political participation among the 21st century young people of America. If these three main issues are addressed and seriously taken into consideration when political campaigns are planned then the increased support of the younger generation will be inevitable.