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Why the youth of America are struggling to make their voices heard in 2016

A youth perspective on the election.

By Avani Venkatesh

Road to the White House

RICHMOND, VA: In American history, never has there been an election quite like this one. Whether it is the role of social media or the flamboyant personalities involved, the 2016 presidential election is extraordinarily unique.

Due to this, many voters see this election as a choosing of the lesser of two evils; and a significant section of the American population believes that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are not good leaders, especially the youth of America. Yes, there are some young people that are strong Clinton or Trump supporters, but most are genuinely worried about the future of our country.

A big part of the youth’s involvement in this election is social media. Whether it is sharing memes, sarcastic pictures or real views, social media has greatly influenced the youth’s perspective.

For example, Ken Bone, a man who asked a question at the debate became famous he was featured on Jimmy Kimmel. The reason Ken Bone became so well-known is because his face was spread around twitter, causing him to become an internet sensation overnight.

Another example is the election’s use of snapchat. For myself and many of my friends, the Snapchat segment “Good luck America 2016” is where we get a majority of our election information. It is a segment run by former CNN politics reporter Peter Hamby and is meant to inform young people and young voters on what the campaign trail is like for the candidates as well as their teams. The segment is equally informative and humorous and also plays a significant role in the opinion of America’s youth.

Additionally, because Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat are dominated by millennials, many of the issues that the youth care about are debated and shared on social media. Opening twitter on my phone induces a flurry of political memes and hashtags like #buildthewall and #crookedhillary from my Trump supporting friends, and #imwithher and #nevertrump from my Hillary supporting friends.

While the youth of America loves to joke about the election, we are all genuinely concerned for the future of our country. And while many of us cannot vote, we use social media as a way to make our political voices and opinions heard.

The biggest concern for America’s youth currently is the cost of college and the national debt. Except for the beginning of election season when Sen. Sanders was still in the race, the cost of college has not been a popular issue in the election, which is an issue that is extremely important to the younger generation.

The same applies to the national debt situation because while it has been mentioned, a concrete solution still has not been offered from either side. Both candidates are known for not giving any straight forward answers, but the evading is especially bad on these issues. It is not only frustrating to not know how the future of our country will turn out, but also scary.

Much of the youth of America cannot yet vote, which creates an extreme sense of powerlessness. Whoever is elected as our leader will be in office when all of us go to college, rent our first apartment, buy our first car, and even get our first job.

The situation is ironic. A person who we have no say in electing will be the biggest influence in how much we pay for college, for taxes, for health insurance, and for most government related aspects of our lives. Though those of us who are under 18 don’t have a say in who will run our country, the decision of the election is one that will affect our lives tremendously, which is why the youth of America are struggling to make their voices on the 2016 election heard.

(Avani Venkatesh is a 10th grader in the IB program and an aspiring writer.)