Today, there are too many things to keep track of in our daily lives. Between family issues, schoolwork and possibly a job, there’s a lot going on. Within the chaos, one particular topic is often forgotten: local politics, such as the recent Boston City Council election.
In general, younger voters are less likely to vote in elections and be involved in local politics. Why does this matter? The youth are the future and they should have more of a role in local elections because the laws made by the Council will affect them for years to come. An ordinance that decreases education funding, or an ordinance that raises the age for someone to work, all directly affect young people. Since young people make up 13% of the population in America, their voice should be just as loud and strong in politics as other age groups.
Aya Nakkachi, a senior at John D. O’Bryant High, who volunteered in the recent Boston City Council Election, said of young people in politics: “I hope that people vote, it doesn’t matter who, just vote!”
In Boston, it is evident by the voter turnout each year that many people see local election day as “business as usual”. In the recent general Boston City Councilor election, only 17% of the voting population turned out, reported The Daily Free Press.
Low voter turnout reflects the public’s lack of awareness and care for local politics, which is a massive obstacle if we want to make our city a better place.
Paul Pitts-Dilley, a history teacher at O’Bryant, says that our generation needs to be active and unafraid of making people upset. “If you want to create change, you have to demand change. Otherwise, people are just going to take pictures with you [the youth]...without really engaging with the youth,” he said.
We should care about the system because it currently doesn’t serve everyone the best it can. There are many problems within Boston that affect many people, such as gentrification and a lack of affordable housing. The youth of today can make changes that solve these problems tomorrow.
Bridget Ryan, an AP government teacher also at O’Bryant, says there are many ways kids can be involved in politics. “Voting is being involved in politics — whether you’re volunteering, writing about it, you could blog about it, post on social media about it. You don’t have to be a huge advocate and be involved in protest and marches to feel you’re involved politically,” she said.
Anything someone can do to get people discussing certain issues counts as being involved. You don’t have to be a full-time volunteer. Write a post on Instagram (or Facebook if you still use it), or have conversations on current topics with friends.
Nakkachi said that her experience volunteering for Michelle Wu and Alejandra St. Guillen truly opened her eyes to how youth currently participate in politics. She wishes people could, “Educate themselves and go out and vote... It’s a fundamental basic right that everyone should use.”
The youth of Boston need to rise up and show that they care about what’s going on in politics. It’s our lives and our future, so why shouldn’t it be our government? As Nakkachi said, and as the recent extremely close election demonstrated, “Every vote matters.”