Local teens find they have a voice in politics

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 19, 2010

The youth forum held at East St. John High School earlier this week gave St. John the Baptist Parish’s future leaders an up close and personal view of not only the candidates running for St. John Parish president but the political process as a whole. But more than that, it showed the teenagers they have a voice in politics.

In the days leading up to the event, classes brainstormed topics, discussed issues and debated specifics. Through this process alone the students discovered the inherent worth of their ideas to the community at large.

Then, at the actual forum the students’ ideas were given further validity by the sincere consideration each of the candidates gave in answering the questions. It was as free from pandering as a political forum is likely to get.

What’s more, the earnestness with which the queries were posed provided a real sense of freshness to the proceedings. One got the feeling the issues were truly close to the hearts of St. John’s youth and free of any political subtext or ulterior motives.

The world of politics is just beginning to wake up to the importance of young voters, but in recent history the youth vote has played an increasingly prominent role in deciding elections. During the 1992 presidential election, many credited Bill Clinton’s appearance on MTV as a significant factor in his victory. More recently, it is widely believed young voters played a major role in electing President Barack Obama.

If young people can have such a powerful influence nationally, imagine the sway they could have locally, where elections are often decided by a few hundred votes. This forum brought the youth of St. John Parish one step closer to realizing that power.�