4 Ways Young People Can Impact The World
The younger you are as a registered voter in the United States, the less likely you are to cast your ballot, and the more you may have to lose by not doing so.
According to the latest data from the United States Census Bureau , voters aged 18 to 24 have consistently been the demographic with the lowest turnout, demonstrating an overall trend toward disengagement. While the line chart spiked in 2008 for President Obama’s first election, the trend has once again headed downward.
“Midterm elections yield disproportionately low participation among young voters, at a time when each additional vote yields the greatest impact,” says Jonathan Bannon Maher, a former candidate for the United States Senate. “Debt from wars and unadjusted retirement benefits is piled onto the shoulders of our future. Adults make the choices and kids get sent the unpaid portion of the bill with interest. It seems even informed, motivated youth often feel powerless to make a meaningful impact. If they were to believe they can drive broad positive change, they’d be more inclined to communicate their thoughts to decision makers and participate electorally.”
So even though you aren’t yet old enough to vote, here are four ways you can become involved and affect positive gains.
Encourage older friends and family to vote.
Since you’re probably not old enough to vote yet, encourage friends or family members who are of age to vote. Your college age friends may say they’re too busy, so go to the polls with them and demonstrate your support in numbers.
Data shows that twenty-four percent of young adults don’t know how to register to vote. If this is the case for your 18+ siblings, shoot them a text with the link to your state’s elections office website or the website rockthevote.org which provides easy directions on how to register. Registering to vote is actually a straightforward process, so don’t let that be the reason your loved ones back out.
Volunteer for a candidate’s campaign.
If this seems overly ambitious, you may not be giving your political views enough credit. Review as many candidates as you can find online, and support those with similar faith, interests and drive as you. Look at those who have the courage, intelligence and heart to identify and resolve problems.
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, research candidates nationally and seek out those whose campaign offices are within driving distance. You actually have a lot of energy, and a fresh view, which campaign offices need. Find someone whom you can feel enthusiastic about supporting. If you haven’t found anyone, keep looking.
Articulate your views to lawmakers in writing about a personally important issue.
If promoting a candidate is just too much, don’t give up. Whether you know it or not, you’re most likely passionate about at least one issue, whether it’s the environment or education. If you don’t know who represents you and your community, you can find it at the following site: openstates.org/find_your_legislator/ .
“Politicians and their staff can be profoundly influenced by logical heartfelt correspondence, even if a direct response isn’t provided,” Maher says. “But no one responds to communications they don’t receive.” So write a letter, draft an email, comment on a News Feed. Though it seems like your voice is never heard because you’re young, the truth is, people are inspired by your willingness to share, speak-up and provide a personal story.
Follow news sites on social media.
Grand gestures can sometimes make a big impression. However, smaller measures can plant a seed that takes root in important ways, too. If you care about the world but want to learn more, start small. Simply by reading well-researched articles from well-educated journalists and public intellectuals, you’ll notice your feelings come out. “Researching an issue from all perspectives will allow you to be most persuasive,” Maher says. Following a site or opinion-maker that inspires you will keep you engaged. From there it may only be a matter of time before you decide to make a difference.
About Jonathan Bannon Maher Jonathan Bannon Maher (www.jonathanmaher.com ) writes network intrusion detection and prevention software for the Pentagon. In his free time, he writes investment management algorithms and works on startups. In 2012 at age 29, he ran for the United States Senate. Prior to that, Maher wrote software used to purchase and manage billions in assets at a hedge fund. His music has been licensed by MTV, VH1, and Discovery Networks, and he’s written two books, including “The Destiny of Humanity,” endorsed by world leaders, and “Building a Successful Organization.” He graduated from the University of San Diego with recommendations from the President and Dean.