With the current issues that affect teenagers such as gun control, racial equality, mental health and environmental safety, many young individuals are eager to express their constructive opinions and proposed solutions. Some others even go further and attempt to lower the voting age.
Keanu Salas, a junior at George Washington High School, believes that the voting age should be changed to 16. Since students take history classes which encompass the current status of the U.S. government, he feels like 16 is the age that teenagers start to truly think about what goes on in the world.
“I think teens can engage with politics by giving our opinions and being heard. I feel like adults don’t take us seriously to take in consideration on what we think or what we feel is good for the betterment of our society.”
According to Salas’s observation, the main problem is that the government leaders make so many promises to make improvements, but never executes it. When they do, it isn’t to the point where it drastically solves a problem.
He further discussed some pros to changing the voting age to 16 – saying that it allows teens to be a factor in choosing the right person to lead in the future.
“I feel like that it is important because we are the future and it will affect us the most in the end. If we start getting politically involved, we would understand how the government works and how we can help make a change.”
When the first female governor of Guam, Lou Leon Guerrero, was elected, Salas believed that it was a great opportunity for her to show that a woman can lead just as well as any other person. It’s going to be an exciting journey for the island, and hopefully, she can make the changes that matter.
Nathan Sala, a junior in Saint Paul Christian School, does not believe that the voting age should be changed to 16 years old due to teens’ immaturity. He doesn’t think that teens are fully aware of what is happening in the political field.
“While social media platforms (especially Twitter) allow for easier access and rapid dissemination of political news (for example, the Gov’t shutdown, Black Lives Matter movement, Net Neutrality, etc.), it doesn’t really compare to reading the news and getting full, factual information which I feel many teens don’t read/care about.”
Sala thinks that teens can engage with politics by reading the news, identifying political causes or issues they are passionate in, and getting involved with them. He went on to further discuss the main problems of the government.
“In terms of local government, I think that the culture of employment based on “connections”– which leads to individuals who may not be as qualified for their line of employment being elected/employed–is definitely a big problem.”
Confident that his parents shaped the way he sees politics, he is content with the “foundation” of his political beliefs, which encouraged him to read the news and stay up-to-date on political issues.
“One pro of changing the voting age to 16 years old is that it would give younger people a chance to use their “voice” and have a say in government. One potential con is that there is more room for votes that may be made based on impulse or misinformation due to a potential lack of political “maturity”.”
To conclude the discussion, Sala stated that the responsibility of the government is to make policy and decisions that will benefit the majority of the people not only for a certain period of time but in the long run, “I think that they can definitely improve on their accountability and in the way they execute some of their programs and policies.”
Changing the voting age to 16 may be too extreme, but some teenagers make rational reasons to do so. Despite the motley of opinions, the teens are definitely taking a step forward by engaging more in politics and the government.