Don’t wait to participate: Political action is important and necessary*

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The Beacon Staff

The upcoming presidential election will determine our country’s chief decision-maker for the next four years. Nearly all of Wilson’s senior class and some of the juniors will have a say in who the next president of the United States will be.

Just a glance at Facebook, a sit-in in a class discussion, or an overheard hallway conversation reveals the political interest among Wilson students. We know what our options are and what’s at stake. We’re having the conversations, but talking about politics is only the beginning; political action is the next step.

For 18-year-olds, the path to political participation should be clear: Get out and vote. Despite what the Bernie stickers or Hillary t-shirts spotted at Wilson may suggest, the reality is that a shocking number of young people don’t actually show up to the polls. According to the Census Current Population Survey, in the 2012 presidential election, 66.3 percent of people above the age of 30 voted, compared to only 41.2 percent of people aged 18 to 24. A democracy is only successful if everyone is involved and if all opinions are voiced. And if young people don’t vote, we’re denying ourselves a say in our own futures.

Political involvement doesn’t need to end after this November, however. Local elections occur regularly throughout the year and directly affect our community and city. We may not realize it, but our ballot can have an impact on who makes the important decisions regarding safety, neighborhoods, and even our school. Voting is the most direct way to be involved in politics. Be it on the national or local level, voting gives everybody an equal opportunity to express their interests to the government.

The reality remains that the majority of Wilson can’t vote. It can be frustrating to hear discussion after discussion about the upcoming elections when you can’t play a direct role in the process. However, there are other ways to get involved in politics and express our political beliefs. Students of any age can canvas for their favorite candidate, engage in conversations about politics, or share updates on Facebook. At the same time, it’s important to be wary of false information and emotionally-driven opinions. Staying informed about what’s going on in the election process, even if we can’t vote in 2016, allows us to understand why certain policies are being implemented and how we can change them in the future.

Living in DC puts us in a unique position. Some of the most important political decisions for our country are being made right down the street. Many of our parents work for the federal or local government. Wilson students are clearly interested in politics; all we need to do is translate that interest into action. •