Ageism in Politics: Students Deserve a Voice

By Katie Bedard
Elm Staff Writer

After the shooting in Parkland, Fla., pro-gun advocates are declaring that the victims of the shooting are too young to know what’s good for them and shouldn’t be trying to get the state to reform its policies. This begs the question: at what age is a person “responsible” enough to know how their futures should be run?

While gun advocates may see these students’ arguments as being “brainwashed” by liberal lawmakers, I would argue that argument isn’t exactly a very reasonable one. In fact, pro-gun advocates are slowly finding themselves unable to form good reasons for why gun reform shouldn’t happen other than for their own personal benefit.

“Some people don’t think we’re serious because we’re children,” said Sofie Whitney, a survivor of the Parkland shooting at a rally in front of the Florida State Capitol building. “But did you hear my friends speak, how many more people have to die before something changes?”

If one looks at the law for what makes a person old enough to advocate for change, the number can go from 18, to 21, to even 35. At 18, the state views an individual as an adult, no longer a dependent child of their parents. They are restricted in many other things, such as drinking, until 21. Even then, if a person wanted to run for President, they would have to wait for their 35th birthday.

When I imagine the type of person who would argue that students my age are too young for politics, I think of an older man talking about the good old days of the ‘50s. To them, millennials are still too young; not just because of their younger age, but because of what they have done and aren’t doing. This would include not having served in the military, worked long hours at a trade job, and choosing to go to college for a liberal arts degree.

I can’t help but feel that for the older, pro-gun generation, no age will be “old enough” for those younger than them to have the knowledge and wisdom to make proper decisions. Age doesn’t necessarily make you a smart person. It certainly gives one more opportunity to better understand society and the function of the world, but that’s entirely dependent on the type of life a person leads. An individual who has never left their town in their entire life is none the wiser than someone who has yet to complete high school.

Despite how ageism affects all aspects of our society, there are still those who are more than willing to look towards the newer generation for a better tomorrow. Maybe these people remember when they themselves were considered too young to know what’s good for them.

“These are the young people who are going to change the world for the better,” said Robert Runcie, the Broward County school superintendent, at a town hall meeting in Sunrise, Fla. “And let me tell you, our students are ready for this moment. They have been preparing for this moment.”

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