Since I was very young, work has been a part of my everyday life. I have been employed since I was fourteen and had been working on my farm since I was ten. Getting that paycheck every two weeks was nice, it put a little extra money in my pocket to spend it on what I needed, not to mention it was nice to brag to my friends because I was always the one with the money. Life was great I had everything I wanted until I finally started looking at my paychecks more closely. I had noticed that on every paycheck the government took out a little bit of what I had made, things such as social security tax, and Medicare tax. At the time I didn’t know what these were for and it made me angry because the government was taking money from me that I had earned by working hard. I wanted to change this but there was nothing I could do because I couldn’t vote. When I was in high school I thought that the voting age should be lowered because there was millions of teens in the United States that were not being properly represented. I had this idea of lowering the voting age to fourteen for about four years until I got to college. I researched the idea of lowering the voting age and found, the United State cannot afford to lower the voting age any further.
The idea of lowering the voting age looks like a cool idea to teens, but research shows that teens don’t have a very big interest in politics at all. Melissa S. Kovacs and Daniel M. Shea from Tufts University found that when the voting age was lowered to eighteen age groups 18-29 had the least interest in politics (Kovacs, Shea 2). Not only were they uninterested but they also had the lowest voter turnout of all other age groups. I was one of the few in my high school that did enjoy politics, but as I look back I realize that all the kids in my high school were too worried about how they were going to play in their next football game or who was going to win homecoming king and queen. No one in my school ever talked about who was going to win the next election or what each candidate even stood for. Many of the kids I graduated with weren’t event registered voters and they weren’t planning on doing it anytime soon.
What about the kids that did care about politics though? Like myself there were a small number of kids in my high school that were into politics. Even though we wanted to vote and felt we had the right to, we would never admit that our brains were not fully developed. During teen years the brains emotional senses are at its highest, higher than children and adults. Due to these emotions teens are more likely to act on impulses rather than making rational decisions (National Institute of Mental Health par. 14). In high school I would have never believed that. If you asked me then, I would have told you I was as smart as I’d ever be and that I knew everything. If you ask me now I will, completely admit that I was wrong I know now that no one knows everything and that we are all constantly learning. The reason I thought that way in high school wasn’t just me being stubborn, but I actually believed that. This was because my emotions were at its highest and my brain wasn’t developed enough to understand it. I admit that my brain isn’t fully developed today but it has changed a lot since I was in high school.
The majority of teens don’t care about politics and the few that do, like all teens, have heightened emotions and can’t make rational decisions. These aren’t the only reasons that they should be kept from voting though, and it’s partly our fault as a country. Teens In high school aren’t being educated enough in school to make wise votes. When I was in high school I was only required to take one government class, it was also the only government class offered to students. This class was only a semester long and the majority of the time we were just learning the names of all the presidents. This class felt more like a presidential history class, barley even talking about current events in politics and how they work. Schools are focusing too much on civic engagement which they believe can just replace civic learning (Downs 344). Schools are just expecting students to eventually just get involved in politics hoping they will pick things up as they go. This is not educating our student though. This would be like throwing a person into a job without showing them how to do it first. In the election of 1972, the first year eighteen year olds could vote, the majority of these teens said they voted like their parents because they didn’t know enough about politics themselves to make an educated vote (Armstrong, et al 1). I wasn’t any different when I turned eighteen I voted for Obama not based on what his political stance was or what policies he stood for, I didn’t know enough about him to do that. Instead I voted for him because he seemed more honest than the other candidates.
Our government has come a long way in terms of voting rights, but they cannot afford to lower the voting age even further. There will be teens who think this is unfair and that they are not being represented properly, but given time they will realize that they are too young. We cannot allow these uninterested and undereducated teens to vote. They will be voting based on their heightened emotions and will not make logical educated votes. The nation will be changed in a negative manner if this is to happen.
Armstrong, Abbigail, Tiffany Houchin, et al. “Examining Trends in Youth Voting: The Effect of Turnout, Competition, and Candidate Attributes on 18-24 voters from 1972-2004.” Southern Political Science Association. (2008): 1-6. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.
Downs, Donald. “Civic Education Versus Civic Engagement.” Academic Questions 25.3 (2012): 343-347. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.
Kovacs, Melissa and Daniel Shea. “Youth Attitudes towards Civility in Politics.” Tufts University, 2010. New York: CIRCLE, 2001. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.
“The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction.” National Institute of Mental Health. National Institute of Mental Health, 2013. Web. 12 Nov 2013.