Just because you can’t vote doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion

Commentary by Al Fernandez
Times-News correspondent

General election season is in full swing across America. Often, young people are left completely out of this process. As a student who cannot vote, I often feel like adults expect me to be a blind lemming who follows what I hear from my superiors. Sad to say, that image is not without justification.

In the environment that many kids have grown up in AlamanceCounty, all that we learn is to always be quiet, obedient and submissive. While that is oftentimes a great thing, it can stymie intellectual development of each individual. After all, we are not going to be living under our parents’ ideological wings all of our lives. Whether we want to or not, we will all eventually have to create our own opinions on issues.

Obviously, people who are underage cannot vote. But that privilege will come soon. In the meantime, what can young people do to get more involved in the political process?

The most obvious one is to have discussions with friends and future citizens. When you grapple with the issues, you may find that you do not agree with one another on different issues. Even more, you may find that, despite your constant arguments, you can never change the mind of your friend. This is a part of the Democratic process: Not everyone will agree on everything.

The problem arises when people become so established in their own opinions that they refuse to even consider the arguments of others. This type of close-mindedness is what has led to the various conflicts in our nation’s history.

Another important factor is to stay informed. It is much harder to run a democracy when people have no idea about what is going on. I get disappointed when teenagers like me fail to learn current events and then pass judgments on something that they have no idea about.

Now only do I wish to see people who cannot vote learn more about the world around them, I would like to see them do it while still keeping that semblance of civility that society has all but discarded as being possible.

Why should it be so unreasonable to expect future voters to be informed about issues of the day? This country has given every single one of us something to be proud of, something to live for. The least that we can do is try to steer the country in the direction that is best not only for our generation, bur for future generations as well.

Most of us will be of voting age before we know it. If we want to keep the America that our fathers and forefathers passed down to us, we should go back to the same style of civil discourse and debate that this nation was founded on, instead of simply doing what our parents tell us or, even worse, not caring about the issues.

Politics is something that affects all of us. It’s time we worried about having an effect in it.

 Al Fernandez is a junior at Alamance Christian School and a Teens & Twenties writer.

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