It’s never too early (or too late) to get involved in politics

The 2020 election wasn’t the end of it


Saehee Perez

Members of McLean Young Democrats Club show their dedication to influencing the election as minors by phone banking for the Democratic Ticket on Oct. 30. Making over 1,100 calls with four days left in the election, the members come together even on student holidays to be politically active.

Saehee Perez, Reporter

Sometimes it feels as though there is never a right time to get involved in politics as a teenager. You’re seen as too young, too naive and too uneducated to know what you’re talking about. But regardless of age or time in a campaign cycle, everyone—especially high schoolers—should be looking to get into politics.

With the elections and the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris having concluded, some may say that it’s too late to get involved in the political process. That, however, is 100% false.

Not only are there major efforts for the Virginia 2021 elections, but there are countless other ways to volunteer with a campaign at any time of the day, any day of the week.

In fact, it is essential that you get involved.

In times of such polarization, the hostile political atmosphere can deter people from getting involved. Instead, this polarization should be a driving force to become civically engaged. When you volunteer, you can understand other people’s views, share your own, and educate the community by having conversations with voters through phone or text banking.

“Every time is the right time,” said junior Aria Huffman, member of the Mclean Young Democrats board. “Time is just going to keep going—in five years, you’re just going to be five years [older], so it’s better to get involved now.”

Advocating as a teen can be challenging. Oftentimes, older people enjoy emphasizing that they have more life experience and therefore are more capable of making change.

“When people just disagree with me, sometimes they do insert that, ‘Oh, it’s because you’re young; you don’t know what you’re talking about’,” said junior Skylar Tennant, a moderate conservative.

As teens, though, we naturally tend to have a stronger grasp on technology, social media and digital marketing strategies, all of which are essential to the inner workings of a campaign. To add, strategies such as relational organizing—using already existing connections to mobilize voters—is paramount to increasing youth voter turnout. Who else is better equipped than us to reach out to young people they know?

With the condescending attitudes that teens face, it’s crucial that you stick up for your beliefs.

“Don’t let someone tell you that your experience doesn’t matter because your experience, your truth, is your truth [and] no one can tell you that it’s wrong,” said Christina Shepard, a Gen Z director of the Virginia Deputy Coalitions and Virginia Youth Coalitions for Biden for President.

“Young people are going to be the ones that change this country. Right now, 30% of the eligible voting population is made up of millennials and Gen Z, so we really could outvote everyone if we wanted to,” Shepard said.

We are going to be on this planet longer than other age groups, and it is going to be our responsibility to fix the ever-growing list of issues in the world. Thankfully, there are a myriad of ways to get involved right now.

McLean offers the Young Democrats and Young Conservatives clubs, which are open to all students. People can also find Democratic campaign events to join on Mobilize and Republican campaign events on the Virginia GOP website. Going on Ballotpedia can also help you be familiarized with different candidates, see their websites and platforms, and sign up to volunteer. But some of the easiest ways to take action include simply encouraging friends and family to vote.

“A lot of times, peer pressure and not wanting to disappoint your friends is a huge motivation to get [out and] vote,” Shepard said. “My friend the other day was like, ‘I feel like sometimes I just voted because I know Christina would be mad if I didn’t.’”

Other ways to be involved include going to protests, though they may be hard to attend during the pandemic. Additionally, reading articles and keeping up with issues is key to staying politically aware. Rather than blindly absorbing content with misleading headlines, one should actively evaluate the credibility of a source and conduct their own research in order to combat misinformation. While they are biased sources, following politicians on social media can also help individuals gain constant exposure to what is happening in politics.

“Even social media can be a [questionable source, since] it’s hard to fact check things on different social media platforms,” Tennant said. “But I know a lot of…websites like Politico [and] Associated Press [are] good websites to get facts from.”

Even with these ways to get involved, many people still don’t feel like their work would be valued. “A lot of people don’t really engage in politics because they think it’s not very applicable to them but in a lot of ways it is—especially local politics like state politics more so than national politics,” Tennant said.

State and local politics—while often overlooked—play a large role in daily life. Last summer, the Virginia General Assembly had a special session where new state laws to expand early voting rights were passed. This allowed for more early voter turnout, placing Virginia 3rd in the nation for the most ballots casted prior to Nov. 3, with the most being from Northern Virginia.

This year began with new laws taking effect as well. Some of the most notable ones include limits on the cost of insulin, and the ban on holding a cellphone while driving. The Virginia General Assembly convened on January 13 and is set to adjourn on February 27.

Virginia also holds elections every year, with midterms and general elections in even years and state elections in odd years. In November 2021, Virginia will elect its next governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state delegates and senators. Because Virginia has elections every year, there is never a lack of campaigns to join, no matter what time of the year it is.

As students—high school students, at that—we are often knocked down and told that we are too young for anything. That doesn’t change the fact that we’ll be inheriting this world and all of its problems in a matter of years. It’s intimidating to think about the issues we’ll have to solve, but that doesn’t mean we should avoid confronting them.

Why not get started now and lessen our future workload?