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The Power of Being Involved: A Deeper Look Into Politics Beyond the National Level and the Youth Vote


As Election Day on November 5th looms, it seems as though large parts of the American population have become greatly discouraged and disconnected due to the future outlook on national politics. While this might seem to be a dreary conclusion, it is undeniably true that national politics over the past decade has been tumultuous in dealing with multiple issues including but not limited to foreign policy, economics, reproductive rights, climate change, and more. Now, when we look to the future, national politics continues to cloud our thoughts, only made muddier by the recent debate that took place between former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden.

However, despite all the doom and gloom we have been subject to lately, it is also undeniably true that we the people still hold the ability to impact this upcoming election in more ways than one, specifically when dealing with local and state politics and the power of the country’s youth. And, as we look at all the issues mentioned above, we must also begin to realize what truly is at stake on November 5th.


Becoming Involved in Local and State Politics


Often, national politics has been and continues to be the center of attention in multiple aspects of life, especially the news cycles. Nevertheless, when it comes to youth wanting to enact change within what they usually see on TV or social media, they are left feeling discouraged and powerless. According to a survey conducted by Ruby Belle Booth as a part of CIRCLE, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, in 2023, “55% of young people (ages 18-29) say the country is going in the wrong direction.” However, at the same time, “only 40% say they feel well-qualified to participate in politics” (Booth, 2023). So, while the youth of today is the future of tomorrow, it is not unknown that they do not really feel as if they have a say in many matters.

On the other hand, despite this fact, it’s important to consider that youth do have the power to enact change, and while there may be some, especially those from marginalized communities, who feel the opposite, they should be aware of the fact that they have the opportunity to do so, especially in local and state politics.

To many, it seems as though national politics rarely offers youth the scope to make a difference, but a good starting point to become involved would be local politics. As per the MRSC in 2024, “local government-based opportunities for youth to be engaged civically helps them develop the knowledge and skills to make a difference in their communities.” For example, MRSC continues on that such local government-based opportunities can include “designated or appointed board or commission member roles as well as other broader youth civic engagement programs facilitated by local governments and/or community-based organizations working in partnership with local jurisdictions” (2024). So, for a youth member wanting to become involved, try to first look around your community, whether that be your city, district, or state. The best place to learn of opportunities is the internet through research, but to go even further, you can identify a need in your community and expand your platform to work towards filling that need. 


The Power of the Youth Vote


However, there is and always will be one thing you can do to have a voice in politics, no matter the level. Vote. While in today’s chaotic world, voting might seem like a waste of time and energy, it is undeniably true that every vote counts.

Historically, young people have had lower voter turnout rates than older people, but that has begun to change in recent elections. According to CIRCLE, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, in 2020, “50% of young people [(ages 18-29)] cast a ballot, one of the highest youth turnout rates in decades” (n.d.). In the 2022 midterm election, “23% of young people voted” (CIRCLE, n.d.).

Hence, as we enter into one of the most important elections, youth need to make their voice heard, and if they have the ability to do so, they need to vote and make their voices heard. Every vote counts.





















References


Broadening Youth Voting - Circle at Tufts: UNABLE TO BE CITED

MRSC - Youth Participation in Local Government. (n.d.). https://mrsc.org/explore-topics/engagement/volunteers/youth-participation

Youth are interested in political action, but lack support and opportunities. (2023, January 30). CIRCLE. https://circle.tufts.edu/latest-research/youth-are-interested-political-action-lack-support-and-opportunities



Prerana Kodakandla, Bentonville, 11th Grade, Instagram - @prerana.kodakandla

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