Students Who Think Politics Don’t Apply to Them Are Sadly Mistaken

Laura Noehren, Managing & Sports Editor

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Nowadays, more and more people claim that watching the news is “a downer” or that politics do not pertain to them. Many arguments for paying attention to politics have to do with making an informed vote come Election Day. While this is a good argument for adults, most students at Linn-Mar aren’t old enough to vote. With this in mind, why should teens stay up to date in politics?

The most obvious argument for staying current in politics is the reminder that in the upcoming years, all students will be eligible to vote. In Iowa, teens can register to vote at 17 ½ and as long as they are 18 by Election Day, November 3rd 2020, they will be able to vote. Even with this in mind, many students claim that there is no need for them to stay up to date on politics. But if one does not know the current political climate, how would they know who to vote for? If one is uneducated in politics, it will be significantly harder to vote and making an uneducated vote is just as bad as not voting. By choosing to ignore politics, students are setting themselves up for failure.

The 2018 midterms had the largest youth turnout in history for a midterm election, surging 188 percent nationwide. These surges caused youth to play a large role in key battleground areas. Iowa is a swing state, meaning that depending on the candidate, votes can go either way. The race for the IA-01 seat in the House last November was watched nationally and was not called either way until the night of the election. Iowa is also known to be a representation of the country as a whole with the Iowa Caucus. With these facts in mind, it is important to note that current high school students could very easily be a deciding factor in any upcoming election.

Many political laws and policies that are put in place now will still be in place when students go off into the real world and college. For example, if the state government were to reduce funding for the state universities, it would be important for students to know how this would affect them. However, if students do not stay up to date with politics, laws and policies that could directly affect them later could easily go unnoticed. Policies and information about interest rates or inflation can affect students who plan to take out loans in order to pay for college or other post-high school options. While this information does not currently seem relevant to the average high school student, in just a few years it will be very important.

Those who study history know that studying the past will help you understand the present. If one has even the slightest bit of background knowledge, it can make worlds of difference in understanding current political concepts. Seeing the real world application of political concepts proves helpful time and time again.

While many people can see the benefits of staying politically current, others will find reason to argue. “What’s the point of watching politics is you can’t vote?” some say. Well, eventually high school students will be able to vote on current topics so what better way to be well informed than to get involved now? Having more knowledge makes for a better, well-rounded public. Why wouldn’t a teen want to know more about what is happening in the world around them? In order to be an active citizen, teens need to recognize what is happening in the political arena, and that should start before voting is an option.