Become politically aware now — your future depends on it

Jessica Machado, Staff Writer

With the 2016 election right around the corner, a majority of the current seniors will be voting for the nation’s next president. But how will they vote? Will they base it on the candidates’ ideals and promises to the nation, or will they resort to an “eenie, meanie, miny, moe” tactic?

Electing the next president is not only a right bestowed upon citizens by our founding fathers, it is a responsibility. We are the next generation and, therefore, decide the future of this country.

Teenagers are in that awkward stage where they aren’t children, but they aren’t adults. They can’t vote and have no influence on the election until they reach that golden age of 18, so many don’t see a reason in worrying about political issues or figures. But by the time teenagers are eligible to vote, most of them have no idea what they are even voting for.

For this reason, it is vital for teenagers to get involved in politics now so that they will be informed and knowledgeable by the time elections come around and be able to make an educated, thoughtful decision when voting.

“I try to [teach teenagers to become politically aware] in my government class because 18 to 25 is a large voting block that has very low percentages; they don’t vote,” government teacher Lana Gentry said. “It’s important to be a part of the democracy, and if you’re not voting then who’s going to pay attention to you?”

Whether you are a liberal, conservative, libertarian, or undecided—it’s vital to understand and be informed about both current and future events and be able to develop your own opinion on the issues at hand.

Today, our nation is in a state of extreme social reformation, from police brutality to political correctness. Social reformation can be both a good and a bad thing—good in that people can come together in peace as a community, but bad in that it attempts to find a scapegoat to blame for the nation’s social problems rather than solve them.

In such a wealthy country as this, Americans can become easily absorbed in first-world social problems, becoming virtually ignorant of political issues that will affect their lives in the future. Our generation needs to stop “YOLO”-ing everything and look into the future to protect our liberties and pursuits of happiness.

For example, social security is a major entitlement program that supports retired and disabled Americans. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the program supports over 50 million people and is funded by the taxes of over 150 million workers, including their employers.

According to the SSA, if Congress does not reform the Social Security Act, only 76 percent of scheduled benefits will be paid in full after 2037. In order to fund the program in full for the next 75 years, payroll taxes will have to be raised from 12.4 percent to 14.4 percent in order to meet the demand.

That means less money for hard working Americans—like you!— and more money for disabled and retired ones. If the program is not reformed soon, today’s youth will not be able to collect benefits once they retire.

But before we even begin to plan for retirement, we need to be able to protect our homeland and our allies’, too. With the President’s proposed Iran Nuclear Deal, our homeland security as well as our allies’ will be compromised.

The Iran Nuclear Deal states that the United Nations will limit the supply of uranium acquired by Iran for up to 15 years. After that, Iran will be capable of creating nuclear bombs. By the time the 15 years are up, Iran’s economy will be strong enough to handle international sanctions, if they were to be put back into practice, and will have enough centrifuges to create a nuclear bomb. Israel feels threatened by Iran, whose leaders have openly stated its intention of destroying Israel’s existence, and strongly opposes the U.S.’s support of the accord. President Obama has assured opponents of the deal that the U.S. still holds the power to enforce economic sanctions and even use military force against Iran if they stray from the details of the accord.

The Iran Nuclear Deal is supposed to last 25 years, but many people are skeptical of the deal and wonder if the U.S. and its allies will be able to control Iran’s stockpile of uranium and the possibility of nuclear threats.

Political awareness isn’t only important for current affairs; it is vital for our future and our nation’s security. Instead of reading all the posts on our Facebook pages every day, maybe we should all sit down and take 20 minutes to read through a few newspapers every day—and remember those too are always biased in their views. Read the liberal point of view, then read the conservative point of view—and then decide for yourself where the truth really lies. Power never comes to those who remain ignorant.