Opinion: too young to vote, but old enough to care

Journalism can play an important role in providing a check on the government according to staff reporter Lucas Barr. President Trump's attacks on the media is threatening this and needs to stop writes Barr.

Caitlyn Kleibert

Journalism can play an important role in providing a check on the government according to staff reporter Lucas Barr. President Trump's attacks on the media is threatening this and needs to stop writes Barr.

Lucas Barr, Guest Contributor

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With a little more than 6 weeks until the presidential election, this can be a very frustrating time for those like myself who have opinions but cannot express them come November due to age restrictions. The one thing that everyone on both sides of the political spectrum can agree to, is that this is the most high stakes and untraditional election in our modern history with Monday’s debate anticipated to be a major factor in how people cast their vote.

The results of this election will affect those of us under 18, yet our future is being decided by those of an older age that might not put themselves in our shoes. With issues such as college tuition prices and education making headlines this election cycle, American youth should be able to have a voice in our futures. This is why I believe we can make our individual messages heard and work to make others not take their voting rights for granted.

As a political aficionado, it bothers me that I cannot vote when so many Americans with the privilege of having the right to vote neglect their option to have a say in the future of our country. The turnout from the 2012 general election was only 58.6 percent of those that could vote. The same report shows that Texas had the fourth lowest turnout in the nation with a disappointing 49.6 percent of eligible voters. This personally shocks me that more than half of the eligible population of Texas ignored their privilege of democracy to bring their thoughts to the polls. In other countries elsewhere in the world, many people have no say in how their countries are run as well as those who are suppressed or attacked for attempting to vote. For this reason, I am disgusted when people who did not vote complain about decisions being made in our government, having not utilized their chance to cast a vote for a different option.

Even though I cannot directly vote, young Americans such as myself can still have their influence on the election.

Low voter turnout can start with us. It is very likely that if you are reading this, you know someone in your family or group of friends that is not registered to vote, or simply never votes. Given the circumstances this year, “not following politics” or “not having opinions” or saying, “my candidate has no chance here, so I won’t vote,” is unacceptable.   

It is our duty to get as many citizens to register to vote so that the outcome is an accurate representation of what our country wants. If you are a Democrat that lives in Texas, you might not have the best chances in a statewide election, but you should not let that silence your opinion. Change could start with you. If you are Republican in Texas, don’t take your majority for granted, the contests are very close this year. If you passionately support a third-party candidate, then be proud to cast your vote for them.

Just because many high school students can’t vote, there are still ways for American youth to voice their opinions. If your parents are willing to let you go, one option can be attending a local campaign event for the candidate of your support. If your parents won’t take you or don’t approve of your views, there are always outlets online where you can share your opinions, however it is important that you don’t reveal personal information and remain respectful of other people’s views.

Another possibility is finding people you know with similar views that you can discuss the election with. However, a word of caution here. Discussing or arguing your personal thoughts with friends or people you know can lead to disagreements that heat up fast and losing a friend over differing views is extremely stupid. Additionally, forcing others to agree with you and assaulting or putting down people with differing views is repulsive. I think that Hillary Clinton has much better plans that improve education quality while also lowering the extreme tuition costs of college. Other than this, I believe that she provides much more control and all around better policies and experience than Donald Trump. I fully understand that many people do not share my thoughts, however I believe having the ability to respectfully put out your perspective is important for young Americans.

Remember that you can make your voice matter and shape our nation