Political Affiliation as an Adolescent

Meredith Swanson, Editorial Staff Writer

In today’s political climate, it is not uncommon for someone to ask your opinion on an issue, or perhaps who you supported in the presidential election. For some of us, the answers to these questions may be unclear. Due to our lack of life experience, we may not have enough context on an issue, therefore we are unable to formulate a legitimate opinion about it. We are criticized as “complacent moderates” who are apathetic about world events. What some people do not recognize is that our teenage years are a time for us to figure out who we are, experimenting in a variety of ways, from hairstyles to friends, and yes, political affiliations. It is perfectly acceptable to not have a political affiliation in our high school years, this is why we legally cannot vote until we are 18. At that point, we have had enough time to decide on a reasonable viewpoint. Our opinions may change over time, but when we are 18, we have had enough life experience to know approximately what we are talking about. If we are not considered old enough to fight for our country, we cannot be expected to know how we “would have voted”.

Teenagers who claim to have a strong political affiliation are often bandwagoners. Most young people either choose to side with their parents, or dramatically oppose them, without knowing the facts about what they are supporting. Teens usually, but not always,  just agree with the opinions surrounding them. These ideas are particularly supported by an argument I overheard between two students the other day. One student claimed that he was an adamant conservative, and the other was somewhat unsure, but said he was most likely a liberal thinker. Based on each person’s weak arguments, which involved repeated use of the phrases  “You’re just too stupid to understand”, and “You’re just wrong”, I surmised neither were truly sure of what they were supporting. This may just speak to a failure in the students’ debate abilities,  but that is the reason we learn to debate in school. If one cannot support one’s viewpoint, one does not fully understand it. However, it is important to note that some young people have strong political leanings and are able to support their opinions.

If you would like to try to figure out your political affiliation, I suggest keeping up on current events and seeing what different sides are saying about new laws and relevant happenings, and seeing which ones you agree with, after looking at all sides of an argument.  Don’t just shortcut it and take an online quiz! This can help you formulate a rough idea of where you stand. If you feel as though you particularly agree with what one specific group is saying, then you can research its history to get more of an idea of what that group is all about. Ultimately, however, it is important to note that your opinions and who you support in a given election are not necessarily determined by the political party you may choose to identify with. Politics changes over time, as will your opinions. No person fits perfectly in any given category.