Youth, Politics, and Government
The most prevalent political problem in America is our politically apathetic youth. What’s worse is that this seems to be a growing conflict in today’s society; a quagmire to which many factors contribute. Whether this stems from sheer lack of interest or the more sinister forces of political alienation, most youth have no desire to learn about current political issues or events-or even how our government works. These factors cause the disinterest we are observing in our young people. The gripping fear and hopelessness that they cannot make a difference by participating in politics in even such simple ways as voting makes the younger generations turn away from politics and government. This, in turn, gives young people what they perceive to be an excuse not to vote and the cycle is repeated. However, though its inherent pitfalls are numerous, I feel that this important issue can certainly be resolved.
Initially, instead of scheduling government classes in the junior or even senior year of a student’s high school course load, government classes would better serve the interests of students if scheduled sooner-even as early as freshman year and be required each year. One semester of government gives seniors a quick overview in what is for many the busiest year of their lives, then leaves them hanging. Classroom discussions about our governmental process can spark students’ interest and help my generation get a clue about what is going on in the world. The influence of teachers and parents can be so much stronger than any of my generation likes to admit. If these adults work together to let young people know that we have a voice, young people will be more apt to participate in government.
Of course as it does for so many aspects of young people’s lives, the media also plays a huge role in our perceptions of both government and politics. By presenting politics in a more user-friendly manner and targeting teens in particular, the media can have a positive influence on our perception of the democratic process. Also, instead of pressuring adults to vote one way or the other, the media should strive to make politics more interesting to the youth of America. We are supposed to be the future, remember?
I believe that if we can combine the three factors of school, family, and media we can solve the problems already caused and intrinsic in the future of today’s politically apathetic youth. We can show my generation and those on either side of us that our country and government is a unique and profoundly fascinating institution. America’s youth need to have their eyes opened to current events and how our country is governed. This, in turn, will give young people greater insight and a brighter understanding to pass on for generations to come.