You have the right to not remain silent

Teenagers have a voice that deserves to be heard, as well as first-hand experience with relevant issues that need to be brought to the attention of politicians. But for whatever reason, teenagers just aren’t going to the polls.

Maybe it’s because to a young adult, policy matters seem far away and irrelevant to a high school and college lifestyle. With “real life” right around the corner, concerns about moving out, attending college, or finding a job far outweigh matters that are on the ballot, such as California’s water system or the fine print of gambling contracts. And with homework, sports, and other after-school activities, voting on a Tuesday seems like an unnecessary waste of time, especially when the propositions to be voted on seem to have no effect on a teenager’s life.

Or possibly, teenagers think that they are not “qualified” to vote, or don’t have the “life experience” needed to make political decisions. In fact, the reality is completely different. Youth are often an unheard or underrepresented population in politics; however, that does not mean that they have nothing to say.

The people who are making decisions about car or house loans, funding for college, and minimum wage are the people we vote for — or should be voting for. But instead, politicians are chosen by an older demographic, whose concerns are anything but the struggles of young adulthood. Our representatives don’t have us on their radar, and have no motive to care about us teenagers-almost-adults. However, there is a simple way we could change this — voting.

Take some time to think about this. You have a voice, and people will respond to it. These next few years aren’t going to be easy, but someone in Sacramento or even Washington, D.C., could help relieve some of the stress — you just have to help put them there.