Dear Decaturish – 8th graders at Renfroe Middle School ask, ‘What if we could vote?’Photo by Dena Mellick
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After studying the upcoming Georgia governor’s race and examining poll data and issues important to both Democratic and Republican voters, my students considered the question: If young people could vote, what issues and approaches would candidates need to focus on in order to win their votes?
Here are a few of their responses.
– Laura Gary, Gifted Specialist
If children could vote, then candidates would have to redo everything they planned. Children take up about 25 percent of the U.S. population. That means that we could change everything. Kids don’t lean toward their party. They lean toward what is right.
Teens believe that the environment matters. Teens care about the environment because this is our home that we have to live on for who knows how long. Actually, we may not be living on here for much longer. Over 15,000 scientist warn humanity that there is going to be catastrophic biodiversity loss and untold amounts of human misery. The scientist say that the amount of freshwater per head of population has reduced 26 percent, The number of ocean “dead zones” has increased by 75 percent, carbon emissions and average temperatures have continued to increase. These are just a few things that have happened and we fear that there is more to come. This is our world and we may not be able to stop is from its catastrophic damage.
They also believe in gun control. And when I say gun control I don’t mean the right to have a gun. I mean that we need to keep guns away. The U.S makes up less than 5 percent of the world’s population but holds 31 percent of its mass shooters. This isn’t right. There have been many recent school shootings that involve a new group of students each time. Teens shouldn’t have to worry about their safety in school. It should already be safe for them. And even if we have to protect ourselves, we shouldn’t have to use violence to get our point across, or to use a gun because it is fun to use. Instead of allowing the three types of guns that cause most mass shootings and murders in America, the U.S. needs to take control of these guns.
Teens care about what’s going on in the world, but we can’t do anything about it because we are underage. We don’t care about what party a candidate is with. We just care if their purpose is worthy, if they actually care, and that they are willing to fight for our humanity.
– Mischa Fedak
If teens could vote, candidates would have to change their entire campaign plan. A brand new voting demographic would appear, up for grabs for the coolest politician to win. I know I would be impressed if the next president of my country rolled up in Vans and a sweatshirt. They key to winning over our 12 percent of the population would be appealing to us. They might need to do some research, but hopefully, they would adjust their style, vocabulary, and aesthetic. There is evidence of appealing to young people resulting in winning the presidency. When Bill Clinton was running for president, he appealed to and inspired the young people. He went on MTV playing the saxophone, was laid back and chill, and was relatable to young voters. He ended up winning the race, which proves that young people’s opinions are important.
Although it would be important to involve the social lives of teens in their campaigns, the candidates would also have to cater to the issues we prioritize. It would be important for them to show that they care about issues such as gun control to keep us safe, equal rights, and environmental precautions. We care about our futures. All of the world’s problems will soon be our responsibility, so politicians should care about lightening our brutally heavy load of issues.
We care about gun control because we want to know that we can go to school without fearing for our lives. We care about having gun control to ensure we get to have a future. Teens also care about equal rights for a similar reason. We want to be able to take full advantage of our futures, without being limited by our gender, skin color, or religion.
Finally, we care about having environmental precautions in place because we will inherit the earth, and although we have had so many warnings about climate change and the amount of time we have left on this planet, we still do next to nothing to solve the problem. As a teen, the most important issues to me are ones that will influence my future.
If candidates had to advertise towards teens, they would have to adjust their aesthetics to make us open up to their ideas. Not only this, they would also have to include our prioritized issues in their campaign. If they did this, they would be sure to win the teen vote.
– Samantha Manasso
If young people could vote, they would have to understand us, and show us that they value our opinions. They would have to put themselves in our shoes and think about politics from the perspective of the new generation.
Some things that young people would like (or at least what I would like) are making sure that there are equal opportunities for everyone. Some examples of these are:
– Accepting immigrants from anywhere in the world to have a chance in america. I believe that no matter where you come from, there are good people everywhere, and you shouldn’t be declined a chance to live in a safe place because of the label put on your country.
– Gay marriage should be legal throughout America, because this is a free country, and this is a right that supports differences, and has no harm to anyone.
– Equal education is important because education sets you up for success in life, and is the foundation for a productive life. It is important that every child can access education so that everyone has the rights to be successful.
– Healthcare provided to those who can’t afford is it is important, because some people cannot afford the healthcare they need, and they should get help so that they can get better. For example, if you were struggling with money and got diagnosed with a treatable disease, you could treat it, but it would cause you to go in debt. I think that there should be healthcare assistance to those who need it.
– Security in schools is important. We experienced fear last year because of the frequent school shootings. It is important to children for there to be more safety in schools because we are the ones in school.
When watching political ads, I do not like attack ads. I find them mean to the other candidates. Children are always taught not to be mean to other people. Also, usually you are mean when you are insecure about yourself. So when watching attack ads, I find myself thinking that they are doing them because they are insecure about themselves. I think the most productive ads are the ones where they talk about world issues that would help everyone, and when the ideas they are proposing appeal to Democrats and Republicans.
Overall, I think that it is important for politicians to realize that we are the people who are going to grow into adults and be leaders in the world. To please the world, you must please us, too.
– Calla Ebersold
What if young people could vote? What would need to be changed by the candidates? I think that if young people could vote, candidates would have to address certain issues more and understand parts of teen culture.
First of all, they’d have to focus on certain issues. I know that I, a teen, have issues I care about. An important issue for me is education. Public schools should be funded more so that all students can use technology in learning, and so that teachers are paid more. I also think that education should be individualized to each student. Candidates would have to say that public schools should be more funded to gain young people’s votes. Education would be an issue teens care about because it directly affects them.
Another issue I think that young people care about is gun control, due to the recent school shootings. On April 20, 2018, teens and students across the U.S. had a walkout from school to ask for stricter gun control. This shows that young people care about this issue, and candidates should talk about gun control to get more teens to vote for them, if young people had the right to vote.
Healthcare is an issue teens might care about less because it might not be in their lives as much as the other issues I’ve mentioned. Overall, the candidates would have to address education, gun control, and gay marriage in order to gain young people’s votes.
Lastly, gay marriage is an issue that teens care about. People should be able to marry whomever they love. We care about this issue because we are a new generation, and we aren’t stuck in the past. It is also an issue frequently talked about on social media.
Candidates would also have to understand and get into teen culture. They would have to know the positives and negatives of social media and not be focused on the negative parts of it. They would not only have to understand social media, but use it. They could use Twitter or Facebook to talk about their campaigns to get more young followers. Then teens could learn more about what candidates stand for, and maybe even relate to them more.
– Lucy Cone
Most adults and older millennials think that if younger people could vote, our politicians would turn into Yeezy-wearing, Cardi B-listening, reckless representatives. They think that politicians would need to start appealing to us by participating in the recent trends in pop culture. Contrary to the belief, my peers and I would agree that we actually have ideas and advice for making our government better, ideas that are related to real issues that we are passionate about. I personally would vote for someone that would change gun, LGBTQ, and education laws over someone who is wearing Supreme or listening to Taylor Swift.
Nowadays, when you see a school shooting on the news, you see children and teens on the stand speaking up their friends who lost their lives over the lack of gun control. I could name the names of Parkland children, but I couldn’t name a politician that actually did something. Now I’m not saying that there are not politicians who are doing things, but they are being overshadowed by the thoughtless behavior of our other representatives.
If young people could vote, I believe there is a higher chance more would get done. Our society is growing up in an age where children are able to look up facts and information on things to find out what they must believe in. Children can now learn more about themselves and their political view better than the children years ago would have. We now have the resources at our fingertips to learn about our politicians and make more educated choices on who should be running our country.
If children could vote, equality and safety would increase for the better. If children could vote, our education would be better, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.
– Sara Kertscher
If young people could vote, then the presidential candidates wouldn’t change anything at first. And they would fail. As kids, we make up 24 percent of the U.S. population, so our votes would matter. To try and sway major elections in their favor, candidates would try to appeal to as many of the 74.2 million of us as they could. They would have to focus on the issues we would care about more than our parents and grandparents. These would be things like gun control, and for some of us, legalizing marijuana. We care more about gun control because we know that it can and has affected the youth population. Also, lots of young people smoke weed, so if the candidates legalized weed, they would obtain lots of votes from teenagers.
Another significant issue that would sway the votes of much of the youth population is their stance on how we treat the environment. This would be very important issue to many people under 18 because we know that the health of the world in the future could be detrimental to us. This is the world that we will inherit and live in all of our lives, so if it is healthy we can live a better life. To sway our votes, candidates would have to be proactive about saving the planet for us.
Another important issue to us is education. Even if all kids do truly hate school, as we get older we do realize that a good education will greatly benefit us later in life and make us more successful. To nab our votes with this issue, candidates would have to put more tax dollars into schools. Even though many older people may think that the entire youth population is ill-advised and we do not have many thoughts on important issues, we do, and if politicians want to win elections they will have to understand our point of view on all these topics that are important to us.
And they would have to have at least 100+ solo wins in Fortnite to impress the twelve year olds.
– Billy Carlton
If the voting age was lowered to 13, I would expect politicians to think more progressively and address more issues that affect the future. As a 14 year old, I most likely have 70 or more years left to live on this planet, and I don’t want to spend it in a hateful, polluted, violent world. The future is progressively looking worse and worse with climate change and other things like very high amounts of student loan debt coming out of college. Lots of teens, me included, don’t want to grow up in a world where we are broke and have to breathe with a mask when we go outside. A world like that just sounds depressing, but I am going to talk about how we can change this.
There are many issues that teens would like politicians to address, if candidates wanted kids to vote for them. Teenagers these days really care about their future, and a big factor in the future being good or bad is climate change. If teens grow up into a world where you’re constantly on edge because of increasing risk of natural disasters, it could majorly affect them. Once most teenagers get out of college, they have the problem of global warming just dumped onto their shoulders by the previous generation. The thing is that teens are the only ones who will have to end up living with global warming for a long amount of time because older generations may die in the next 20 years.
Another large problem that teens face is increasingly large amounts of student loan debt after graduating from college. If you come out of college already nearly broke and you have tons of debt to pay off, it can be terrible for mental health and even physical health, if you’re getting by eating tons of fast food. You could end up paying off this debt for 10-20 years, depending on how expensive your school was and your previous financial situation. Politicians would need to find a way to decrease student loan debt to get the votes of teenagers.
In all, teens are quite concerned about their own future, because the future from how it’s looking right now could end up being quite problematic. If the politicians don’t address these issues, and possibly more, they will not get the majority vote from teenagers.
– Stephen Roach