Stuff: Youth voters have more to offer than you think

Written by Peter Lynch 13:59, Mar 12 2018

I am 16. Smack bang at the youngest age we’ll be able to vote at if the Children’s Minister gets his way.

You can probably guess what my thoughts are – let the kids vote! But there’s more to it than that. Much more.

Do you remember when the flag debate was happening? I do.

I sat on the sidelines while people were discussing the flag we were all going to have as a nation. The flag we would identify ourselves with whenever we went overseas or watched a rugby match.

The reason I sat on the sidelines? I wasn’t old enough.

I was allowed to submit a design for a flag, but I couldn’t vote.

Over a million people under the age of 18 were unable to vote for something that made up the very base of our national identity as New Zealanders. Why? Because some people thought we might vote for something stupid.

The reality is that the very thing we teenagers care most about is our identity, and that’s exactly why when we go to vote, we won’t vote for the ‘lols’.

We won’t let the adults down. We’ll vote for things that make us proud to be New Zealanders.

Did it ever occur to anyone that one of the reasons we teens act so recklessly is because we think nothing we do matters anyway, and that no-one listens to us?

Maybe if we were listened to more we would feel like we mattered and care more about what we do.

Yes, it’s true we lack experience, but we more than make up for it with our vision for the future. We’re the only ones who aspire for the happy endings, because everyone with experience thinks they’re impossible.

We’re tired of the pessimism shoved down our throats by 24-hour media coverage of every shooting, human rights violation, and tweet on Donald Trump’s Twitter account.

At least give us the power to help steer New Zealand in a direction that we all want. Maybe then New Zealand will begin to move forward.

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