I developed an interest in politics at a young age-- an interest that still resonates with me today and invariably propelled me to double major in political science and criminal justice. However, my interest was met with harsh scrutiny and criticism as opposed to the welcoming procession I was anticipating.
At 20 years old, many still ardently believe my political voice should be muffled. It's almost as if I'm still the little girl whose political observations get talked over and ignored during dinnertime debates. Nothing has changed. I'm still the 10-year-old girl everyone shushes, and blatantly stifles.
Despite the fact that I am of age to vote; despite the fact that I am a registered voter; despite the fact that I am majoring in political justice; despite the fact that I fully intend to vote in the upcoming election.
Yet, my voice has artfully been muffled by those who have astutely decided I am too young to really "get it."
My voice, the voice prescribed to me by The United States' Constitution, has been oppressed because many believe my knowledge is representative of my age.
And that simply is not true. Knowledge does not involuntarily and mechanically enhance with age. Knowledge must be attained, it isn't given freely. And I have certainly worked hard to attain the knowledge many have chosen to believe I lack.
However, what astounds me is the mere fact that many of the adults who criticize young people for voicing their political opinion are just as politically ignorant as they are proclaiming teenagers to be. Unfortunately, I have met many adults who lack basic political knowledge, thereby voiding and invalidating their own opinion as well (according to their stance).
I'm doubtful that all these political critics could name how many house of representatives there are currently (435).
I'm even more doubtful that they could correctly name the order of succession as outlined in the US constitution. (I won't bore you with those details).
And I'd love to see them name three supreme court justices.
I know all of this, and more, yet my voice is consistently disregarded. Our voices as a young generation, the millennial generation, is consistently discarded, tossed aside by the perception that only taxpayers are allowed a voice, a vote.
A concept rendered meaningless since majority of us do pay taxes, have since sixteen. It comes out of our paychecks every week in a cute little thing called income tax.
Sorry, I stand corrected. We've been paying taxes far before then as well. Every time we buy anything, excluding groceries, we're forced to pay a lovely thing called sales tax.
We pay taxes. Maybe not homeowner's taxes or property taxes, you win there. However, it's senseless to suggest that we won't be paying any of these taxes by the time the election rolls around, or shortly after. We're in our twenties, a home isn't in the too distant future. Next argument please.
It's almost as if our critics are suggesting that our constitutional privileges are not to be exercised until we've reached the allocated age they've distinctly selected for us. And that simply is not true. Every American citizen, regardless of age, is granted the same constitutional rights. It's our birthright. It is not something we have to work for, or "grow into." We deserve it, same as you.
Our chosen political parties have also received criticism.
If I'm a Republican, it's presumably because my rich, white parents are and I'm simply following in their footsteps. I'm too dumb, too naive, too close-minded to choose my own political party.
Yep, you hit that one on the nail. Good job.
If I'm a Democrat it's assumed that I'm in the pursuit of "free" things because I'm too lazy to work for anything on my own. I'm politically ignorant, following the "cool" crowd, and rebelling against my staunchly conservative parents.
Congratulations. How'd you know? Are you sure you can't read minds?
When we choose to support a particular candidate, we're doing so haphazardly, randomly, senselessly. It surely isn't substantively, intelligently, and based off thorough research.
Everyone knows teenagers only use the internet to post selfies, play games, download illegal songs, and stream movies.
Surely we don't spend hours pouring over credible news stories, looking at candidate's websites, watching televised debates, and attending rallies ourselves. Surely not. What I'm suggesting is incredibly outrageous.
As a Marco Rubio supporter, I'm only doing so because his name reminds me of a game I used to play in the pool as a kid. Plus, I kind of have a thing for Hispanic men. I must confess.
I haven't researched his political stances. I haven't watched his town hall meetings, rallies, and debates. Hell, I don't even know what he looks like.
And if I oppose Trump, it's because Twitter has told me to. Because my peers resent him for blasé reasons, I too must resent him merely to fit in. It isn't because he wants to build a giant wall to keep out the very immigrants that helped build this country or anything...
You may think my sarcasm (the past 10 paragraphs and lines have entirely been composed of sarcasm, I really hope you weren't taking me serious back there. Please don't do that, I'm just a kid, remember) is outrightly outrageous, and it is. But this is how my generation is treated when we dare voice our political views. It seems outrageous because it is.
Once you tell us our voices don't matter, those words become forever engrained in our minds, the memory of which forever stinging, forever reminding. We then become adults who refuse to vote because "our voices don't matter," so why bother?
But our voices do matter. Our votes do matter. And we shouldn't be told otherwise, ever.
So whether you're feeling the Bern, or want to see America great again, go out and vote. Lift up the voice that many have fought so tenaciously to suppress.