Youth Voice in Voting
BY NATHANAEL GREEN '25
The only way for the American youth to change the US’s failing systems is to acknowledge and break the current political stagnation. The US has been dominated by parties entangled in existing economic and political models and thus resists change. America’s youth has grown up in these conditions and therefore adopt the status quo: capitalist realism, the belief that the only viable economic system in existence is capitalism and any alternatives are illogical. This stagnation can only be broken if the younger generation takes direct action; we must educate ourselves on alternative systems that are not traditionally accepted. Learning about diverse perspectives on the organization of society can give us hope to change our failing system.
Those in power have no reason to pursue change as it would not benefit them or provide more luxuries than they currently possess. As a result, they promote the apathetic outlook on society that capitalist realism presents—capitalism is the only plausible means of societal organization. The existing order is controlled by wealthy, established, and media-backed bureaucrats who are perfectly positioned to maintain political stagnation. They have the ability to use their financial leverage to promote the existing economic and political system. Further, their money buys them control of the media, limiting the number of perspectives offered by mainstream news. The lack of diverse perspectives limits the younger generation’s ability to examine issues from multiple viewpoints and imagine new approaches. If young voters are only exposed to the dominant political narratives of this country—narratives that seek to preserve the status quo at the expense of reform—the system cannot change.
Political stagnation has created a climate where change is a necessity, yet few are willing to pursue it. The existing order in America does not accept challenge, and instead of promoting policies that would create meaningful change for the nation, individual wealth and success is stressed. Moderatism and vague agreement on “American values” should not be prioritized over radical policies which are necessary to combat the issues in our existing government system. Without promoting political dissonance, the youth can have little hope to make lasting impacts on this system.
America’s chronic issue of a single narrative is fueled by corporate funding that backs the existing system and people who manipulate the American electoral structure to benefit the wealthy. Political campaigns in America and most modern republics are built around money and the interests of the top one-percent. The wealthy, like Mike Bloomberg, can put themselves on the ballot without worrying about funding. The question we must ask ourselves is: do his opinions inherently matter more because of his affluence? While the answer should be no, under the current system, this is seen as completely acceptable and not a gross abuse of financial standing to attain power. Campaigns with grassroots funding—a strategy of raising small amounts of money from small donors—are easily balanced out by individual multi-millionaire donors. And this is done without the need for public support or even common knowledge of the candidate's existence or experience as a civil servant. Money buys power in our country, and until that is not the case, political stagnation and the domination of the older generations over American democracy will persist.
American political stagnation must be broken, but it is still unclear how this can be achieved. While this issue cannot be instantly remedied, there is one factor that can be used to break free from the limitations of the status quo—education. In order to even imagine changes to the current system, the knowledge of alternate systems must be circulated: an initiative that the younger generation must undertake themselves. This education could be exposing oneself to diverse perspectives from around the world, or looking into texts of authors which look into alternative systems. The younger generation is not yet entrenched in the system, and therefore is uniquely poised to change the prevailing perspective of society. Imagination stems from inspiration, and what better way to get that inspiration than from those who asked the same questions centuries ago?
To revitalize America’s societal structure, our country’s political stagnation must be acknowledged and broken. The current system’s nature makes change highly difficult, and its failures promote the apathetic outlook of capitalist realism within the youth, which only furthers this cycle. To break political stagnation, the first step must be prioritizing the younger generation’s self-education. Only through gaining knowledge, combating apathy, and accepting diverse perspectives can we begin to reimagine the existing system. This generation must succeed where previous generations have failed to bring a brighter future to all of us.