This month, the Marshfield Mariner is featuring editorial pieces written by AP English students and submitted as part of a class requirement. As always, we welcome submissions and letters to the editor from writers of all ages (and from those not receiving course credit!) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the age of 16 in Massachusetts, you can legally drive a motorized vehicle. You have the option to drop out of school and work 48 hours a week. With parental consent, you can get married. At 17, in nine states, you can be tried as an adult for a criminal offense. Police can now interview you without an adult present. Yet it’s not until the age of 18 that you are allowed to have a say in the future of your country and, in turn, your future.
In the upcoming 2020 election, I, along with many of my peers, will not be of age to vote. People assume that at the age of 16, you are still just a kid. What many people don’t comprehend is that there are countless political matters that haunt us every day. Our future is uncertain, as there are many issues that will take place in the upcoming years which this country has never had to deal with before.
Climate change, for example, has been a problem for decades but has just recently begun to gain favor in politics. The earth is dying as carbon dioxide levels rise, yet people continue to wave the problem off. Although it may not greatly affect us in the next decade, 50 years from now, we will surely be living with its adverse effects. The representatives of our country need to be doing more, but the voice of our generation cannot be heard.
Another topic coming up in the 2020 election is student debt, and who better to have a say in this matter than the students who will be suffering because of its consequence? Today the majority of students applying to go to college can only afford about 5 percent of the schools in the U.S. As of June 2018, the average college student ends up with a debt of over $38,000.
Again, I ask, who is impacted by this? Voters ages 40-80, or students ages 15-25? College pricing is a critical issue for the youth of America today, yet we have no say in who is in charge of passing laws to affect it. Students go to college with ambition and come out with tens of thousands of dollars dragging behind them, weighing them down.
There are countless more issues that the young adults of this country face, including minimum wage, gun restrictions, the opioid crisis, mental health services, and reproductive rights. Yet it is not until we turn 18 that we are allowed to help decide who represents us on these topics.
If there is no change to the voting age, it will be another five years before I will be allowed to participate in the next election. Lowering the voting age not only gives young generations a voice, but creates voters for life.
We can talk and hope that you listen, but we cannot make a change to our leaders until we hold the power to do so.