This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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I want to take a moment and introduce you to Shea. She is my daughter. She is a 17 year old junior in High School who is already getting mailers from colleges across America because of her 4.0 gpa. Yes. I am bragging.
Shea wants to tell you why she thinks kids should be left alone to be kids, and not saddled with the weight of a national (or even a state) election which has huge consequences for everyone in her country. Her voice is a most preeminant voice, being the very people Democrats have targeted in their bid to secure future voters.
Shea Magaline Weighs In
In recent years, many people have begun to discuss changing the voting age. There are two main sides to this argument. Those who believe the voting age needs to be raised and those who believe it should be lowered. Like every argument, there is a middle ground.
That’s where I come in. It is my belief that the voting age is best left alone. Raising the voting age is very unlikely. Also, younger people are more easily controlled, feel the need to fit in, and simply (overall) are not responsible enough to be allowed to vote.
Why I was Liberal
It’s hard being a teen, and like many others, I have experienced first hand what it is like to want to fit in. In my short life, I have experienced being on both liberal and conservative sides. However, I can tell you this: When I was more liberal, I wasn’t that way because that was my opinion. I was liberal because that was the ‘good’ opinion. We were ‘the good guys,’ they were ‘the bad guys.’
Many teens get into fights over silly things, drama can be found everywhere, and no relationship, friendly or otherwise, is truly safe.
I believed the things I believed simply because that is what a lot of my peers said was right. It wasn’t that I had reviewed the information and views of the opposing parties and personally disagreed. I hadn’t even tried to see the obvious similarities between my own personal values, and some of the values of those that I thought of as the enemy. I was more liberal then because I was following my emotions, blending in, and not trying to offend anyone.
Sadly, that kind of mentality is popular in high school students. I see it every day at school. Kids shutting down other kids views just because they aren’t willing to listen to anyone else’s perspective. Whether some kids know it or not, they go into conversations thinking “If their opinion is not similar to my own, then it must be wrong or immoral in some way”. Young people usually don’t care to look at ‘The other side’ because it scares them away.
Peer Pressure Plays A Huge Role
Most kids don’t know what other people’s opinions are, and are not willing to listen to them. If not that, then they might think their peers will look down on them for listening to an opinion that is TOO different from their own. I understand that some of us younger people are not like this, and actually do form their own thoughts and views on subjects, but really… do people actually think most kids do that? I can tell you right now that this is not the case.
Even just last year, I remember wanting a certain candidate for president. I didn’t know why. I just thought that way because everyone said that he was the best person for the job. So he must be, right? I remember being asked why I supported him. I couldn’t answer. I did not know what his points were but I went along with it like so many others. All I heard was how great he was and how he was the only candidate worth voting for. I really just didn’t care enough to look into it.
We Aren’t Ready
I consider myself to be a responsible and smart teen, but when it comes to maturity, at the age of fifteen, I wasn’t ready. I still don’t think most 16-year-olds are. We simply want to blend in, get along, and not be alone. I’d argue that most kids themselves don’t even care about their own voting rights. A lot of people think of teens as rebellious and nonconforming, but when it comes down to it, we really aren’t.
With many younger people, you’d just have to follow three simple steps to get them on your side. First, play to their emotions (we are pretty highly emotion-based beings). Second, throw in some supporting facts. Whether they are true, not true, or partial truth, most kids will not fact check you after you tell them something. Especially when they are already emotionally involved. And lastly, though this might not be the most important, get them to like you. it helps with building rapport.
If you follow these steps, even with most adults out there, they will help you get people to trust and believe you. Depending on how well you do this, it may help you gain many friends who will be valuable to your cause (especially if you are interested in a career in politics). Everything I have said above can be applied to many adults as well.
Dude! We’re Still Just Trying To Grow!
However, during the teenage years, hormones are running rampant and emotions are high. Many teens get into fights over silly things, drama can be found everywhere, and no relationship, friendly or otherwise, is truly safe. Teens are typically more emotional and less responsible than the average adult. When it comes to voters, as a citizen of the United States, I would much rather have educated, mature adults make the decisions (especially when voting for the President of the United States).
I would not want to include an entirely new batch of young voters who are more easily manipulated. I am not saying that young people are stupid for being easier to control. They (we) just want to be accepted. To fit in and make friends. It’s not really a question of intelligence, it’s more like “can young people be trusted to make their own path?” versus following someone else’s. Can young people face the kind of responsibility and stress that comes with voting?
Can they make the hard decision of trusting a stranger to govern their country? Most of us are still getting to know ourselves, so, as you can imagine, it would be hard to try and decide when and who you can trust your country to. In the past, people were expected to grow up fast. Like everything, our country has changed. A lot of that change being in the more recent years.
Things Aren’t The Same Anymore
Living here now is different. The voting age was 21 before being lowered to 18, and people who were for lowering the age then were able to say “If they’re old enough to be drafted, then they’re old enough to vote.”. It is just common sense that if an 18-year-old is allowed, and in that case, expected to risk their life for their country, they should be allowed to help decide who runs it.
Partly because of this, they lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 with the 26th amendment. Today, however, the military is voluntary, and 18-year-olds are allowed to join the military, they are not being forced to. As a country, we have been fairly safe from any big war and have not had the draft since early 1973.
To me saying the voting age should be changed now really doesn’t seem to have any good points. 18-year-olds now are no longer as responsible as they were before; we just don’t need them to be. When 18-year-olds had the possibility of being sent to war to deal with, they also had other big concerns, like starting families. Nowadays, most people wait to have children so they can make a life for themselves first.
A Simpler Era
Life was more simple then. You live as a kid and, as you age, you learn to grow up. Back then you probably would have had a job or two. The age to be able to work has changed now. Once you were old enough and could support yourself, you’d build yourself a family. The pressure on teens today is no longer in the same areas.
Today kids feel pressured by completely different topics. One thing I can say for sure is that people arguing over politics is one thing that does not help teens in their weird and stressful lives. I personally believe that the voting age should be left alone because teens younger than 18 are not needing the responsibility, as well as the stress, of politics. We do not need to lower the voting age because, where kids are concerned, they just aren’t responsible enough, especially nowadays, to vote.
Way Too Heavy
When it comes to teen responsibility, people have mixed emotions. But I can tell you this. As someone who is a teen, and deals with other teens 5 or more days out of the week, teens are not responsible enough anymore. Many teens I meet have a hard time thinking about the future and instead stress over things that are happening NOW.
Many people out there who are adults still expect instant gratification. For some it is harder to wait to have things better in the future than it is to only focus on short term stuff. I remember when I was younger, I was less patient, but I grew up faster than a lot of my peers. Despite me acting like a goof, I actually make good sound decisions… most of the time. Most of my friends are older than me, and I know several of them who are definitely not responsible enough for their own well being.
I Really Don’t Trust It
Because of this, I do not trust my age group to be voting. I suppose people could say that I don’t choose my friends right, but the people I am closest to, who are not responsible enough to vote in my opinion, are some of the only people my age that I know who I would trust with my emotions. Sure, they are not fully developed when it comes to other areas, but when it comes down to it, they are there for my emotional and even physical well being.
Although I don’t believe it’s a good idea that people as young as me should be voting, they should be listened to and considered when more responsible people are voting. My opinion, much like everyone else’s on the subject of voting, is just that. An opinion. One point for lowering the voting age is that it would increase voter turnout. Where this could be true, are numbers really that important?
What Are We Really Looking For?
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t encourage people to vote, but we should have some standards. To me, quality most often matters more than quantity. It just doesn’t make any sense to me to value the numbers so much. I mean sure, more people showed up, but were they informed on the subject they were voting on? I personally don’t want people voting for someone whom they know nothing about.
Educated voters are ultimately what we should be aiming for. When someone decides not to vote, that’s on them. To me, when you decide to not to get involved in something, you do not get to complain about what happens. People voluntarily not voting because they don’t recognize the importance of it, is not my, nor anyone else’s problem. Those who actually want to do something will realize that one vote does more than no vote.
As a country, we want voters. But it is just dumb to think that we should bring in a younger, less responsible, less informed, and easier controlled group of voters who, honestly, will probably be just as unenthusiastic about the voting process as the rest of the voters.
Too Much For A Kid
In conclusion, voting is not something kids as young as 16 should have to worry about. Yes, it would be beneficial to introduce teens to how the voting process operates. But that should be done before they actually start to get involved in political decisions. My suggestion is that we have some sort of mandatory time or class dedicated to teaching teens about their government, voting, and current events. Like Civics.
Having required classes like this would help to make more responsible, informed, and hopefully excited, future voters. Even with classes like those, teens do not need the stress of voting. I understand wanting to get teens involved, but that is simply not a good decision. Pressure from peers and parents alike to vote a certain way is something that would affect a teen differently than an adult.
Most 16-year-olds are at the point in their lives in which they are trying to separate from their parents and peers views and make their own. Because teens don’t typically know exactly what they stand for and how to properly stand for that, they are more easily influenced by others who do know what they stand for. It is much harder to be a leader than it is to follow one.
This isn’t an exceptionally bad thing, but it is a kind of lack of maturity that is necessary to be, in my opinion, a good and desirable voter. It is hard to be a teen nowadays (though I can’t imagine being at the most awkward stage of life was ever easy), and when it comes down to it. Teens just don’t need to vote. It’s a responsibility I am glad I have to wait for.