By: Dan Guthrie, 16 year old aspiring journalist | Website
2016 has not been a great year. Hate crime has dramatically risen in the UK after the result of the EU referendum, and has started to manifest itself in the US after the result of their presidential election. A lot of this violence and anger has been targeted towards people of colour, Eastern European people, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
I would love to have my voice heard about these life changing issues, and contribute to decisions about these topics, but sadly I cannot, because I am only sixteen years old, and legally I cannot vote yet. However, I can get married, change my name by deed poll and join the army. I am allowed to fight for my country, but not choose who decides the budget for it.
Of the people who can vote however, the overwhelming majority that swings the decisions appears to be the older generation. Statistics from YouGov find that 64% of those that they surveyed over 65 years old voted to leave the EU, and the US election exit polls found that 55% of those over 65 years old voted for Donald Trump. Chances are though, those in this demographic won’t live long enough to feel the impact of these major decisions, and it is my cohort that get to live through it. If 16 and 17 year olds were given the vote, then the Student Room predicts that 82% would have voted to stay, making the overall vote to Remain. However, MPs blocked the plan to let my demographic vote, meaning that our voices were not heard during this important time.
Personally, I feel let down by my current politicians, due the fact that I was unable to express my views about how I want my country to be run. As a young black man, I now feel threatened by the shifting viewpoints of our nation. Despite the fact that I was born in London, one of the most diverse places on Earth, when I walk through the streets of UK cities now, I can feel people judging me to see if I’m “one of the good ones” or not. The UK now feels like a collection of people slowly turning on each other for being different, rather than the diverse and accepting melting pot that I grew up in.
Sadly, there’s nothing we can really do. Protests and petitions may work to get our voices heard, but at the end of the day, the decisions are either up to all of us, or an elite minority. The best thing to do is just accept the changes for now, and continue to keep at what we’re doing, campaigning to get all of our voices and opinions heard.
I can fight for my country, but can't choose who leads it: We need votes at 16 Reviewed by Student Voices on 14:56 Rating: