Nina Thompson: Navigating Politics as a Teen

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As the midterm elections head into the final stretch and it’s hard to avoid political headlines, Y-R Media’s Nina Thompson is trying to find ways to engage as a teenager.

A lot is going on right now. From Supreme Court decisions to midterm elections, I can’t help but feel like politics are in complete chaos. But there's another layer that only makes me feel worse — my age.

It’s hard for me to know what to do in response to current events. I always hear suggestions to take action — like volunteering with campaigns or advocating for legislation. But I’m still struggling to find my place.

Because as a teen too young to vote — even when I try to participate — I don’t feel heard. The average age of members of the US House of Representatives last year was 58 years old and 63 for Senators. And, neither of those ages are close to mine.

The lack of representation in government already discourages me from political participation, but I feel especially unmotivated nowadays. The overturning of Roe v. Wade sent a message to me about how much power politicians have over people’s lives.

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The most effective way for me to make tangible change is through involvement with organizations or other forms of activism. And although this involvement can be a great option, it doesn't change the fact that politicians we couldn't vote for or against have the power to make choices that directly impact our lives.

While I feel at a loss over how I can engage in politics in a meaningful way as a teen, I look for youth-led organizations to find ways to contribute and consider what others in my community are doing. Through clubs, I’ve helped educate my peers about the state government — how the decisions are made and how they directly affect us.

There is no perfect solution, but being introduced to political processes and civic engagement has helped me find direction and take action.

With a Perspective, I’m Nina Thompson.

Nina Thompson is 16 years old and lives in Berkeley. Her Perspective was produced by Y-R Media.