Are you registered to vote? According to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, approximately 50 percent of eligible young people voted in the 2016 general election. The number of millennials eligible to vote is now roughly equal to the number of baby boomers. However, according to the National Public Radio, millennials continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group.
The 2016 election was essentially the first election where all millennials in the country were old enough to vote. It is now 2018, and today’s youth are becoming more aware of and involved in politics.
Although the U.S. is not currently in the midst of a presidential election, America’s youth are focusing on an important ongoing political issue: gun violence. The Atlantic describes the aftermath of mass shootings in the U.S. as a three-act play. First, feelings of grief and terror are felt. Next, gun-control advocates and opposers argue whether or not stricter laws will help. Finally, public opinion remains divided. No changes are made.
Not this time. After the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, students are coming together, stepping up and refusing to back down. Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have become symbols for the “Never Again” movement. The latest political campaign is challenging government officials to consider gun law reforms. By using social media, writing letters and making television appearances, students are demanding their voices be heard.
Student involvement is not limited to those affected in Parkland, Florida. Students across the country are showing their support for the movement. The “March for Our Lives” protest is scheduled for March 24. While a large majority of students will be marching in Washington D.C., sister marches will take place nationwide.
It is an inspiring time as America’s youth are demanding change. Yet, the country remains divided. According to Newsweek, a Texas school district has threatened to suspend students that participate in walkouts in order to protest gun laws. Other school districts have made the same decision. Luckily, Yale University and other prestigious colleges are encouraging high school students. Universities and colleges have released statements informing students that participating in protests will not affect their academic admissions.
Other student-led protests have occurred in the past, but none quite this powerful. Students are the future. Regardless of an individual’s personal opinion on gun reform, there is no denying that the current movement is impressive. Millennials are often teased and told they are “lazy” or “crybabies,” but America’s youth are getting involved with politics like never before. So, they should be given nothing but support and encouragement. The movement is not solely for MSD High School. The movement is for those affected by Columbine, Sandy Hook and every other mass shooting where innocent lives were lost. The steps being taken, both figuratively and literally, are to save lives. With America’s youth becoming more politically aware, we can expect statistics to change as more young people nationwide become involved in the next election.