Taking Action – Why should high schoolers be politically involved?

Madeline Swanberg, News Editor

Art courtesy of Elise Stearns

Being a high schooler means being on the brink of lots of opportunities – college, work, and perhaps most importantly, the right to vote. With national voter registration day last Tuesday, as well as the upcoming midterm elections in November, many of us should be thinking about how important political action is now and throughout the year.

“If everyone was involved in politics, the young people would have the deciding vote in everything,” says Renn Stearns (10). The sophomore spent his summer interning with Forward Montana, a nonpartisan organization that encourages youth participation in politics, and he knows very well the importance of engaging the high school population.

Of course, for those of us who are eighteen, voting is one of the easiest and most important ways we can help cause the changes we want to see. So how do you get registered to vote? The process is much easier than many of us might realize. It might involve a few clicks of the mouse to print a registration form off the internet, but more often than not organizations like Forward Montana and MontPIRG can be found at large events with voter registration paperwork in hand. Next time you’re out at First Friday or downtown with friends, take a quick five minutes (seriously!) to get registered. It’s an easy first step in becoming an active member of our democracy.

But what if you’re not yet eighteen? Obviously, voting is out of the picture, but your ability to influence politicians and voters is far from unimportant. Volunteering to register voters or canvassing for a politician or initiative you support are just a couple easy ways you can start getting involved in politics – and this way when you can vote, you’ll already be educated and ready to make your decisions on what you’ll put on the ballot

“Just be active,” says Stearns. “It’s important for us to know about what is going on politically in the world and make informed decisions.”

Perhaps the most important thing you can do, whether you’re of voting age or not, is to keep yourself and your friends informed. Luckily, this is also one of the easiest things to do, especially when so much of the information is all around us in social media and the news. Talk to your parents and friends about what they think, even if it might be different from your opinions. Know what those news headlines mean and how they might affect you as well as others. As high schoolers, we’re constantly told to think about our futures, but we don’t often talk about how much influence we collectively have in that future.