RB needs to get students politically involved and voting

RB needs to get students politically involved and voting

Students learn more about politics in classes such as AP US History with teacher John Fields.

Rebecca Rusiecki, Staff Reporter

This past Tuesday, Mitt Romney easily coasted to victory in Illinois, winning over forty delegates. However, with near record low voter participation, especially among young adults, I feel that the political fate of our country may haven taken a turn for the worse.

Let’s face it.  For the most part, high school students aren’t very concerned about politics. In many cases, even those who are 18 don’t take much of an interest.  I know politics may not seem very important to us now, but we are the ones who will have to live with the actions of those elected for the rest of our lives.

“How could [students] not care about their futures? Democracy only works with an informed and involved citizenry,” said Jan Goldberg, a social studies teacher at RB who is very well known for her interest in politics.

Of course, this isn’t to say today’s young people are completely lost when it comes to politics. Many students and members of the community take place in the political process and vote. In addition, others at RB work as election judges or help register other students to vote.

RB usually does a fair job of fostering an interest in politics and government. This is mainly done through social studies classes such as US Government and Politics or US History, which all RB students are required to take. In my experience, I have never felt that we could not have class discussions over current political issues just because they were controversial.

Yet the problem of voter apathy among youth still remains, and RB could definitely do more to combat this. “It is great that we have so many involved students. But to get to the masses, we need more speakers, more assemblies, more clubs devoted to political discussion. Kids need a place to speak their mind without worrying about a grade or what a teacher thinks,” said Goldberg.

Due to budget cuts, Forum Club, RB’s club devoted to discussing politics and other current events, is no longer running this year. I feel that this was especially inopportune timing, since this is an election year and being involved and informed is more important than ever. It is vital that RB makes combating voter apathy a priority.

Not only does it harm our country when young people choose not to be involved in politics, but we must also remember that it wasn’t so long ago that young adults could not vote. It wasn’t until 1972 when eighteen year olds gained the right to vote, after years of fighting and campaigning. And before youths, women and African Americans fought vigorously to earn the right to vote. It seems to me that it’s unfair to take their sacrifices lightly by not voting.

With a presidential election on the horizon in November and our country facing pressing economic and social problems, it is vital that we, both individually and as a school, become more involved in politics. Even if one cannot vote, simply staying well informed is a step in the right direction.

“Most of the tragedies in history came about with a population that was not paying attention,” said Goldberg.