Young voters, rise!

Mitch Itasaka, Staff Writer

The relationship between youth and politics is heading towards a brighter future. On a global scale, there is a rise in political activism among young people, who aspire to express their voice and make a difference in whatever issues they are passionate about. However, this trend alone will never allow them to reach their full potential in political influence. In order to take the next big step forward, I believe that it is finally time for young people to put their votes to use.

The issues facing young people are fundamentally different from those older generations are concerned about. Take climate change for example. A poll conducted as part of the Harvard Public Opinion Project found that an astonishing 70 percent of Gen Zers, or people born after the year 1997, believe that climate change is a problem, of which 66 percent demand urgent action. People of older generations, on the other hand, are less interested because they have more of an economic interest in voting. Why would some old geezer who just wants to finish up their life care about what happens to the climate after decades of time?

And yet, elected officials holding this sentiment make up the majority of the government. As politicians will naturally put their effort into answering the demands of the people who vote for them, young people who generally don’t vote will continue to be overlooked, while the people of the older generations get an uncontested priority.

Young voters showing up at the polls can help advance the political interests of the minority. The U.S. population is becoming more and more diverse as the nation continues to receive a steady flow of immigrants from around the world. According to a Pew Research Center report on the U.S. population in 2018, 48 percent of post-millennials, defined as people between the ages of 6 and 21, are nonwhite and from different minority groups. When voters from this age group don’t turn out, this highly diverse part of the population goes underrepresented. Even though the U.S. is a nation founded by immigrants, current diversity in politics is still too low. Hence, young voters can become the driving force behind a major political gear shift towards increased diversity.

People of the younger generation tend to think their votes will never amount to anything significant. Actually, this is far from the truth. An analysis by the Pew Research Center on U.S. Census Bureau estimates that since 2014, 15 million members of the post-millennial generation became eligible to vote. This number is nothing to scoff at. If anything, it gives me hope knowing the level of political power young voters already hold, which is just not recognized as such by the voters themselves. There is no penalty for voicing one’s opinion towards the government. So get out and vote away!