Teens should take more seriously the Constitution’s opening line, ‘We the people,’ and be more involved in civics
Art by Accolade artist Karen Lee

Quick! Can you name our local congressman?

Who are California’s state senators?

Who ran for the Democratic primary last year?

Many students don’t know the answer to these basic questions, and I think that’s a problem.

Our governmental system is complicated, yes, but it is our basic civic duty to have at least a rudimentary understanding of the inner workings of Washington. After all, Congress’ laws directly affect us, and if we don’t understand them, then how can we ever hope to follow them?

I understand that we all get tired as the week progresses. Work piles up, extracurriculars interfere with our schedule, and we have a lot on our plate. However, we should still be aware of how our lawmakers run our country. It’s our country.

Many students have raised the argument that politics do not concern them and that laws are written by and for older generations, but that could not be further from the truth. Our democracy grapples with issues of paramount importance to teenagers all the time.

At what age should teens be allowed to drive? How old must an individual be in order to give sexual consent? At what age can a minor be criminally prosecuted as an adult? What time of day should school start?

All of those questions have been the subject of political controversy over the years, and we should care about them. They directly affect us.

We should all be familiar with the great social debates rocking our nation at this very moment. We all need to understand why health care, voter suppression, racism, gender inequality, immigration and our national security matter to us.

The first sentence of the U.S. Constitution begins with the phrase, “We the people.” We are the people, and we need to start acting like it.

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