First, the survivors of the Parkland shooting became outspoken about their views on guns, then Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest member of Congress, won her election, and now, the outspoken Greta Thunberg has taken to the environmental conversation stage. When discussing politics, age is a topic that seems to come up rather frequently. More specifically, when activists or speakers are of a younger age, such as those previously mentioned, it tends to add an increased scrutiny from others. In my eyes, the invalidation of younger voices in politics is unfounded and unwise.
The conversations I’ve had with my peers throughout high school have shown me that teenagers, or specifically high-schoolers, are fully capable of caring and being knowledgeable about our political climate and its issues. From Politico Club, to Student Council, to those attending rallies, there’s an abundance of students who truly stay involved. While these students may not be the majority of high schoolers, it’s a shame for older citizens to disregard the youth simply because of their age. My generation, and the one above, offers a wealth of new opinions that deserve to be considered.
To be honest, the most frustrating part about the devaluation of young voices is the claim that they haven’t dealt with the “real world” yet. I can’t claim to know everything about the economy, or running a business, or paying a mortgage, but the point of politics is to allow a space for every opinion to be heard. My “real world” is one where I could lose my friends to gun violence if my government isn’t careful enough, where our country’s piling debt may affect me when I’m older and where the status of our environment could directly harm me and my possible children.
To add to this, the youth right now will be the ones dealing with the consequences of our government’s decisions in 20 years’ time. It’s in human nature to care more about the things that will directly affect one’s life, so of course younger generations will want to be outspoken about the dire issues plaguing America. None of this is to say that older generations’ and individuals’ opinions are irrelevant, as they most definitely have had more experience on this earth, but only to emphasize that the political conversation must have balance.
In conclusion, every age’s voice must be given a fair shot in the political arena. To all my fellow Generation Zs and Millennials, it’s imperative to get out, be active and vote. Staying informed and knowing how to truly listen and debate is one of the greatest ways to stay credible and involved in political conversation. To all Baby boomers, I beg, please remain open-minded and just listen. If someone has made the effort to stay updated on American and world news, critically think about the topics at hand and form an opinion on them, then they at least deserve the chance to be heard. It would be a disservice to this country to let politics become exclusive. After all, this nation is just one big melting pot.