America has elected its next president, and on January 20, the 45th president, the leader of the "Free World," steps into the Oval Office with a multitude of issues in front of him.
Between January 20 and April 29, President Donald J. Trump will work to achieve his promises during his first 100 days in office. Like other elections, most voters selected either a Republican or a Democratic candidate. Eligible voters voiced their opinions as the younger generations watched.
In the U.S., young people play an important role in the political process. Although not eligible to vote, they drive many of the decisions that eligible voters make. Many of the president’s programs will directly affect youth - both today and in the future. The decisions made in the first 100 days will have long-term impacts on this next generation. Further, these crucial decisions will be remembered by these young people as they move to adulthood - all part of the latest president’s legacy.
Daily, my friends express their opinions on political matters. I have learned that students’ opinions are often similar to those of their parents - we learn from home. And like their parents, society’s youth is highly polarized and school is often their medium for expression. Whether after a debate or a bombshell allegation, to my surprise, school was abuzz during the election this fall. It seemed that my friends were mostly worried about other friends - those who are Hispanic or African American.
I spoke with tenth grader Kailene Isbell before the election, and she told me some of the issues she wanted the next president to address. Kailene did not say how she wanted these topics to be dealt with, but rather offered a broader list of issues that she believes are important. She said, "I hope for good representation of women . . . I hope that the president will care about the people of our country - children and adults."
Kailene could be considered part of the ever-growing population of women that fight for justice and equality, something their male counterparts already have. Citing the Pledge of Allegiance, Kailene says the fundamental idea of justice and equality "is in the Pledge of Allegiance itself, something I recite every morning, something our flag stands for." Kailene’s wishes have not changed after the election.
Kailene said she wants public education to be a priority, and, she added, "I hope that people's taxes lower in order to help with finances . . . I hope that the president will try to get people to have more jobs rather than relying on welfare." She also said that college needs to be more enticing, and suggested doing that by “adjusting the price.”
While we didn’t discuss it, her goals might be mutually exclusive; subsidizing college tuition and lowering taxes won’t happen simultaneously. Someone needs to pay the bills. This conflict between two competing issues, important to millennial voters, is something that hopefully, the next president will seek to resolve.
With the Constitution comes documented rights, including, but not limited to, voting, a form of freedom of speech. Kailene also touched on this point in our interview, saying, "I hope the president . . . makes me feel like I have a say in what I can do." The right to vote ties back to Kailene’s original statement on "equality and justice for all."
Many students, including Kailene, say they are looking for accountability in our 45th president. They’ll be looking for that not only in our president’s integrity, but in the issues that surround our nation. Kailene is just one of the many millions of citizens who have high hopes for our new leader and the direction of the United States of America.
Gabe Ferris is a sophomore at Waterville Senior High. He is a former member of the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps.