Teens and Politics

Daphne is a sixteen-year-old from California. Her interests pertain to everything, but most of her activities revolve around writing, reading, playing music, dance, travel, and chillaxing with the fambam and friends.

9-12 March in DC-32 by Andrew Aliferis.

In my application for this internship, I was asked what I thought was the biggest misconception made by adults about teenagers. And boy, did I know some. Frustration with such misconceptions had encouraged me to make the choice to become one of Vanessa’s teen writers helping parents understand teen trends. Well, not many misconceptions, but several; one of them being that teenagers are too self-absorbed to care about issues not pertaining to their iPhones and who sits at what lunch table.

Once upon a time, such apathy may have been true. Throughout the duration, Bush administration, I vaguely remember how often I was told that poison had been injected into politics. Issues such as September 11 and the War in Iraq made political views an even touchier subject. In fact, there is an archive blog entry on this very site listing steps of how to get your teenager into politics. Ironically, national events, especially in the past two years, have affected upon teenagers the opposite response. Politics and activism have suddenly found a new life in American youth.

I admit the retardation of my political awareness, which I possessed until spring 2008, when my entire freshman class was given ballots on speculative candidates for the fall election. I recall marking some names absentmindedly, knowing that my parents called themselves Republicans. However, they didn’t even have passionate political voices and kept their opinions extremely private. Then in the beginning of sophomore year, I became immediately cognizant of the formation of a Young Republicans Club, two Young Democrats clubs, and even a Peace Party club. Classroom debates started taking place. One of my teachers finally decided to hold a formal debate and as a class, we wrote up what we thought were national predicaments on the board. I began to think that “economy” ought to be acknowledged as profanity, considering how many times it was utilized in daily tirades.

In my English class, politics were used as a learning source. At first, that sounds a bit alarming, but we were analyzing speeches and political cartoons for their persuasive effectiveness. When we received our first practice SAT essay, the topic just happened to be education. Upon analyzing one of my fellow classmate’s, I found Obama’s speech on education being inserted as concrete detail. After reading Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, we watched a Youtube video of a man dressing and introducing himself as Thomas Paine and delivering his own Common Sense,

which called for revisions to today’s government. He required action from the people as well, imploring viewers to send teabags reminiscent of Great Britain’s oppressive tax acts to congressmen.

The expansion of teen involvement has also been furthered by internships. Obama’s Wisconsin campaign was partly mobilized by both high school and college interns logging in fifteen hours a week. On Facebook, teenagers post their political views as a part of their profiles. You can figure out both a person’s sexuality and what they’ve politically labeled themselves at the same time: Conservative, Very Conservative, Liberal, Very Liberal, Democrat, Republican, Republican Party of the Virgin Island, “It needs to be fixed!”.

When I first noticed this trend, I wondered if it was some kind of coming-of-age mania, like how it’s supposed to be no surprise to hear about drug deals proceeding in the midst of chemistry class. Are we to prove our possession of knowledge on more mature subjects by debating on the economy? But then I recalled something said by my sister’s history teacher: “You guys better do something about this world, because my generation messed it up.” The teenage voice is the voice of a new generation of Americans. It is active and alive, with no regard for the voting age. In the 2008 election, a new cause awakened us from our apathy. We do want to be heard and feel as if we are working towards something that really matters: the state of the world. But my parents might probably think it a better idea to finish my AP homework first.

One Response to “Teens and Politics”

  1. Marie Johnson
    February 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    Thank you for writing this article. I remember my sophmore history teacher had said during the 2008 recession that, “when the middle class is debilitated, our democracy is put in jeopardy.” During that time I consumed politics because I believed and I knew that if I stay in a general state of apathy, it would be in my own fault if I become a victim of government abuses. Sometimes I get disheartened by overconsumption of political media, for my friends and peers,on occasion, may give apathetic and disparaging looks for my enthusisam.But after I read this article I am reassured that only I’m only one is concerned but that I’m not the only one who is somewhat of a romantic and has a childish enthusiam to make an impact on the world. So again and for the final time concerning this article, thank you. Sorry for the grammatical errors :)

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