“Our opinions are not respected!” cries the damaged youth, the underdogs, the strugglers. Drowning in a sea of adult voices, the American “kids” scream out. No one hears. No one cares. Their noise is muffled by an ocean of authoritative figures, parents, elders. Every effort by the youth to reach the surface is suppressed. Maybe it is true that the opinions of America’s youth are not always welcomed, but surely it is also true that the youth have not capitalized on the opportunities granted to them.
Young American citizens, ages 13 - 29, are often regarded as lazy and apathetic, especially when it comes to voting. The youth of America are outraged, and somewhat reasonably so, at the political, economic and social standing of the country, yet many actions that could foster reform are often not taken. The people sing the song of angry men, but they are not subjects and they are not slaves. The young Americans cannot invoke change by being merely continuing to raise their voices. Their chance of being heard requires nothing more than a voter registration card.
In 1971, the time came for the youth of America to grab their opportunity by the reins and run with it — to the nearest designated polling area. The Twenty-Sixth Amendment, ratified subsequent to the war draft, lowered the voting age of American citizens from 21 to 18. Youths were granted a powerful opportunity, its impact especially evident in recent years.
According to U.S. News, the 2008 presidential election might have been considerably different without the younger vote; in fact, in both Indiana and North Carolina, Obama’s youth voters greatly outnumbered all others and ultimately caused his victory in those states.
Regardless of political standing, it is apparent that the opinions of the youth are important and influential. A revolution is occurring, but it does not involve fire, rioting or running away. It involves staying. Voting is a chance, given freely by our country; it's an opportunity wrapped in a bright red, white and blue bow, and it waits for the youth to rip away the paper each election day.
Results of elections are cold fact, but the prosperity of the nation relies on on the voters, not the contenders. A nation founded on democracy requires full voter participation in elections for success; the views of representatives are meant to reflect the majority of the nation, and youth voters broaden the spectrum of opinions with various opinions and demographics.
Less than half of youth voters actually came to the polls in the last presidential election. Studies have revealed that the youth do desire to vote, but only when those running address their interests. Young Americans will not vote if not specifically appealed to, but since the youth are statistically less likely to vote, campaigners find gearing campaigns toward the youth to be frivolous; thus, young adults are caught in a vicious cycle of under-representation as they idly stand on the sidelines. Only by the power of the youth vote will the world realize that the young are ready for reform, ready to take the reins.
Some of you may be thinking: "not every vote counts. My vote has no impact. It would be more beneficial for me to shout into the void than to show up to the polls this November.” Many lack interest in voting and cannot comprehend its purpose. Though one vote is hardly enough to turn a red state blue or a blue state red, each vote does matter. It is not just a single person rejecting the polls. It is millions.
As more and more young Americans opt out of participation in elections, the status quo conforms to the indifferent ideology. No, your vote alone will not leave the United States feeling the Bern. Your sole vote will not Make America Great Again, but each vote increases or decreases probability of outcomes, reflects the views of certain demographics, and leaves the world wondering what issues are truly important. An individual’s vote can earn the youth respect as numbers rise and cause the population to notice that the youth are not going to give up fighting for what matters. Politicians will be forced to address the topics the youth care about; they will have to campaign toward the youth, reforming the social, political and economic problems that America’s youth face. The youth vote will not set fire to the nation. It will ignite a spark.
If the youth of America wish to be heard, they must start at the ballot booth. They must feel the weight of the country — the depths of the world — on their shoulders. Young citizens, you are the future of America, a people that will soon determine the direction of the world and the fate of its people. Will you give all you can give? Will you stand up and take your chance? A massive beast does not have to be conquered for your impact to be seen. So stop screaming and struggling to be heard over the sea of voices of your elders. Vote, and make them listen.