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In the past, I have often thought that I couldn’t be politically active because I am too young to vote.
I have since learned, however, that there are more ways to be involved in government than just filling out boxes on a ballot. In fact, it’s critical that teenagers begin developing educated opinions now because in a couple of years, the future of our country will be up to us.
Before you become involved in politics, you must be informed. Find out who your city councilmen, state house representatives and senators are, and get to know what your mayor and governor stand for. These people make real decisions that impact you. Read about the different political parties and make an informed decision on where you stand. Knowing this as a teen will aid in the decision of who to vote for once you can vote. As you gather information, remember to find multiple sources on each topic and come to your own conclusion to minimize bias.
Once you have done the research, you can take action on your findings. Send letters or emails to your congressmen. Members of Congress depend on their constituents to tell them what is happening in their district or state and they want to know what legislation is important to you.
If you find a candidate you believe in, you could campaign for them. They can be local or federal; every position in government is important. Volunteering in the campaign gives you experience in politics and does make a difference. If helping a candidate isn’t for you, you could volunteer at the polls during the next election.
Other ways to get involved in government include joining clubs about topics you care about or youth government organizations through your school. I became involved in government through the North Carolina YMCA Youth and Government program. The program teaches students the values of democracy by bringing together North Carolina high school students for a four-day conference in downtown Raleigh each year.
Teenagers can also attend debates, rallies, and protests to be involved in politics. These activities give you a chance to physically be a part of politics and they further your knowledge of topics. Stand up for what you believe in.
All of the above ideas are ways to become politically active, but the most important thing you can do to make sure your voice is heard is to vote! Every vote counts.
Emily Martin is a rising junior at North Raleigh Christian Academy in Raleigh.