As students from Parkland, Florida take to the streets following the horrific mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas, the reaction from politicians and journalists have varied from patronizing to cruel. In fact, even as survivors waved picket signs and begged for change feet away, Florida lawmakers still voted against their pleas, refusing to review a gun law. With this action, they said that the voices of even the most inspiring young people with the most heart-wrenching of stories, don’t matter in American politics.
Because had their base been outside their door pleading for change - had those holding the signs been equipt with bifocals and canes - it could be almost guaranteed that the politicians inside would have at least said more than "no." It's for the same reason social security benefits and Medicare remain unscathed by budget cuts, while education is slashed, student loans skyrocket and programmes like Medicaid fight for every cent.
This is something that stems into most aspects of politics - those in power are not elected by the general population, but by a subset of individuals older and more extreme in their beliefs than the average American. It’s no secret that young people don’t vote; and because it’s common knowledge, politicians at all levels of government don’t bother to fight for them.
It doesn't matter that millennials outnumber baby boomers, or that Generation Z is quickly coming of age, widening the gap in age between the average voter and the average citizen even more. Career politicians on both sides of the aisle are appealing to the voters— and their voters are not the young people.
Right now in America, the key to winning elections is going against general census and aligning yourself on the most extreme ends of the political spectrum.
It's easy to become disillusioned in the American political sphere. If even the survivors of school shootings are shrugged off by politicians, what hope is there for those of us untouched by such horror, and our far less pertinent goals? Why vote when the votes don't matter? But, this is the exact train of thought which allows people who don't give a damn about you to take power.
If in November young people go to the polls in masse and demand justice with their ballots, maybe the people who vow to serve the American people will actually do it rather than just pretending to. Because well American politics may not always seem fair, if the children from Parkland taught us anything, it's that if we want to be heard we can be.