By Shannon Tyler
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
As youth, we have heard it time and time again, “ you are the leaders of tomorrow” but what about today? This is the exact question that Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, brings up. Tijerino says, in his Huffington Post article, that he cringes a little every time he hears the phrase, “leaders of tomorrow.” He says, “that’s another way of saying, ‘It’s not your turn yet, it’s still mine.’”
The idea that youth are the leaders of tomorrow has made an impact on what youth and adults think they are capable of doing. This can be seen primarily in the political atmosphere. Youth opinions are typically disregarded by politicians which creates a feeling of apathy and low political efficacy.
Acknowledging and encouraging youth to be involved in politics is more important now than ever before. Today we are faced with so many issues that can only be solved through innovation and leadership. Youth of today have the access to technology and innovation and that is desperately needed. The youth bring bright minded innovation that will solve problems plaguing our world. The youth have the ability to do it, they have the imagination, innovation, and courage. All that is needed is for someone to pass the microphone.
The importance and advantages to passing the microphone to youth go far. When youth are listened to, that creates higher voting efficacy and the want to vote and that will persuade peers to join in. acknowledging people young is the key. If politicians and the government do not acknowledge opinions when people are in their youth, then they get to adulthood thinking government and politicians never truly cared and probably never will.
Jordan Reichhardt, a politically involved 16 year old says, “The opinions of the youth are often disregarded which is frustrating. If it was easier for youth to be involved I think more definitely would.”
Youth are not given much of a chance to be involved and because of that, they grow up with apathy towards politics. If youth were shown that their opinions matter, more would care and that would be carried into adulthood. This is the job of the politicians. In the March for Our Lives movement, we saw adult support, but it didn’t last long.
In Florida, when the movement began, the country saw great youth leaders stand up and demand for gun control reform from our politicians. But here we are almost a year later and the United States has not seen sweeping reform, however; this is not to say that the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s actions went unnoticed. One march turned into hundreds across the nation. The youth were listened in that moment, but it seems that microphone has been taken away once again. Youth cannot be acknowledge just in the midst of a pressing issue.
In the March for Our Lives movement, we saw “the leaders of tomorrow” be leaders of today and we need to see it more. Gun control is just one of many issues that youth are prepared to fight amidst a long list including climate change, poverty, gender inequality, overpopulation, terrorism, and the polarization of our country.
If that isn’t reason enough to engage youth in politics, there are many more reasons to. In Global Young Voices’ Article, “ “4 Benefits of Youth Political Participation,” they went into detail and explained how youth political participation benefits the nation. When youth are politically involved, they are much more likely to give back to the community through charitable work. They are more likely to be civically involved when older and that means they are more likely to vote. Youth who are politically involved will break the status quo. Youth are the key to change in our world, and I, along with many others believe it to be good change. But for any change to happen, youth need to be acknowledged politically.
Kungaba Fongoh Leonel, a global youth ambassador from Cameroon wrote an inspiring article for Their World, where he explains the want and need for political involvement that youth has and how it is needed.
He says, “We can be more than just hand-clappers and assistants. We can be active participants. We are the world’s untapped resource and power source.”
He explains that the youth he sees in his community are not given the chance, but if they were, “they will be able to lift our community out of poverty. When given an equal and fair opportunity to succeed in this world, there is no doubt in my mind that we will help alleviate poverty from developing nations.”
I, along with many others, believe it is time for youth to be acknowledged and represented in politics. Here are a couple opinions from youth: Jillian Cherry, 15, said, “Most definitely, I think teens have amazing ideas and creativity that needs to be explored , “ and Delaney McNally, 16, said, “I have faith in our generation. So many of us are motivated to enact change and get things done.”
Youth not only can be, but need to be, the leaders of today. Youth are prepared and have the innovation to do so. The only thing left is to pass the microphone.