The majority of JBS students are under the legal voting age, yet many are very politically active. A question I am asked rather frequently is, “Why do you care so much if you can’t even vote?” To put it simply, political decisions and leadership positions impact everyone, regardless of how old you are. Sometimes though, I feel powerless. I cannot vote, but there are other things I can do.
First and foremost, to be involved you must be educated on the subject matter. Turn on the news occasionally instead of going directly to your favorite TV show. Read articles regarding current events, and try to avoid biased sources. Even talk to a parent or teacher about politics and see what they have to say. In this day and age, there are more resources than ever before to get educated at a younger age. With that being said, fact check what you see on social media. The Instagram threads may be cute, but they also may be perpetuating false information. Take the time to do research on your own.
There are many ways to get involved. For one, with the election rapidly approaching, encourage the people in your life that are of age to vote. Help them register, find reliable information about the candidates, and get their vote in. I understand that sometimes there have to be difficult conversations. Having a difference in opinion from your parents or friends can cause conflict. A constructive and respectful debate may not be easy, and you may not change the other’s opinion, but it is important to address the issues and take time to view subject matter from a different perspective.
There are many ways for you to get involved in the political scene in St. Louis whether that be local or nationwide. Phone banking is a volunteer opportunity where you call people to educate them about certain candidates and/or topics. Another thing you can do is volunteer at the polls on election day. A little bit ago, the student government sent out an email with the form to volunteer. You would have an excused absence from school and get to make an impact.
If you feel passionate about political issues but you are underage, take matters into your own hands. Sign petitions. If you want a bill passed to Congress, there is a petition for it. If you think justice was not served in certain instances, there is a petition for it. One signature may not seem like a lot, but they add up quickly, especially when they are shared online. Contact your representatives. There are a multitude of pre-written emails and phone call scripts regarding different issues where all you have to do is dial the number. Use your art form; whether that be poetry, digital media, sculpting, or painting, let that passion drive you. Express yourself in a non-verbal way that still conveys your message – sometimes it can be even more meaningful.
Within the next few years, until we are able to vote, we can still take political action in various other ways – such as the ones described in this article. I want to conclude this by reiterating that politics will impact all of us, regardless of age. I understand younger people may not want to get involved or form an opinion outside of their families, but it is important. We are so privileged to go to Burroughs and receive the education we have – not many people have that luxury. I would encourage anyone reading this, as we anticipate this election, to take a stance, have a difficult conversation, turn on the news, or anything of the like. We are the next generation of America; it is important to get involved.