It seems that most teenagers are not concerned with political matters until presidential elections roll around. I can relate – I only pretend to be a professional ice skating critic when the Winter Olympics come on. However, ice skating performances do not affect healthcare, laws, government restrictions, taxes, etc. Teenagers approach politics blindly and sporadically, so how can they make informed decisions when they turn eighteen?
Presidencies aside, even local elections are hardly discussed among teenagers. While some may know who the governor of Florida is, not everyone knows our mayor’s or city commissioner’s name, let alone their political standpoints.
The way we can amend the issue of teenagers being unaware of national and grassroots political matters is simple: politics may not relate to teenagers, but teenagers can find ways to relate to politics. Most parties have social network pages that teenagers can keep up with. Similarly, political news channels such as MSNBC and Fox News should all be followed, as they all have different ways of framing political matters. Finally, teenagers should be encouraged to find their own political paths, not just the ones of their parents and friends. The majority of today’s youth “belong to the democratic party,” although they do not really belong to any party until they begin to actively work to meet the goals of that party through voting. I highly recommend that teenagers research different political outlines before committing to one party. For example, only recently did I visit the outline of the Libertarian party’s goals, and I found that while I do not agree with them 100%, I certainly feel comfortable with the Libertarian spin on mainstream politics as of now.
Once teenagers stop seeing the “trendiness” of politics, particularly during elections, they will see politics as they really are: confusing, decisive, heated, and highly-valued. People sometimes guard their parties with their good names, but teenagers have the advantage of not having firmly set views to the left or to the right. By being open to the unpopular opinions as well as the widely tweeted ones, teenagers can be encouraged to examine their true feelings early and make intelligent decisions based on more than catch phrases and hashtags.
In sum, teenagers should approach the political world with open arms, but more importantly, open minds and open eyes. Without researching the goals of all parties and keeping up with their political actions and phraseology, teenagers will have harder times adapting to the highly-detailed world of political affairs.