Posted on November 30, 2016.
In the wake of this election, I return to what drives me most days, and that is: How can I change things for the better, right here, right now? Whose life can I improve today? How can I make the city I live in safer today? What can I do to improve the education system and education outcomes for the people in my city today?
It is the TODAY part that motivates me, because I know that each of us can in fact make a difference every day. We don’t need to wait for an election. We shouldn’t wait until we retire or have more time, or finish X or Y. We should do what we can now, today.
There are many organizations that deserve our attention, our energy and our financial support. First among them for me is the Junior State of America (JSA). I am convinced that a student-run organization focused on civil discourse and civic engagement is exactly what our nation needs…today and for years to come.
I watch our incredible JSA students, more than 10,000 of them across the country, grapple with challenging political questions with a grace and dignity few grown ups managed to muster during this political campaign. I find myself in awe of the sophistication of JSA student discourse, and the near boundless empathy they show for their fellow students, regardless of political, religious or ethnic background.
Please help us reach more young leaders with JSA’s unique student-led, student-run programs. I am focused on what I can do to support civic education and the rising generation of leaders TODAY. I hope you’ll join me.
Rachel Kaganoff Stern
President, The Junior Statesmen Foundation
Posted in Alumni & Friends, Be Inspired, Educators, Featured, JSA Today, MyJSA, News, Uncategorized
Posted on November 10, 2016.
As people across the country headed to the polls on November 8, 2016, JSAers made their voices heard by voting in a virtual election conducted on our app. Check out what tomorrow’s leaders had to say – not only on the candidates for president but on congressional races and ballot measures as well!
These results offer a glimpse at the priorities of the next generation and the representatives that speak to them and therefore offers telling perspective on the political future of America. The students learned the difficulty of making decisions that could change the course of a nation while also developing an understanding of the importance of voting to our American Democracy. They were also given the opportunity to share their opinion and learn from others by posting on an activity feed that included candidate endorsements, pictures of mock elections at schools, and real-time election updates.
Mauricio Macias, a Senior at Cibola High School in Yuma, Arizona explained the feeling of empowerment he experienced through the online election.“Many high school students don’t have the ability to vote because of age restriction but JSA again gives them an opportunity to express the voice. Being able to vote; even though it wasn’t an official ballot, gave me the opportunity to express my voice and participate in a democratic process that wouldn’t of bee provided otherwise. JSA does this everyday for thousands of high school students and i’m privileged to be be given this opportunity.”
Check out the results below.
Posted in Be Inspired, JSA Today, News, Uncategorized
Posted on November 7, 2016.
Link for reporting chapter debate results:HERE
November Debate of the Month: Resolved, that the legal voting age in all American elections be lowered to sixteen
Brief: The 26th amendment, ratified as part of the Constitution in 1971, lowered the legal voting age of all U.S. citizens to eighteen years of age. At the time, the public saw a grave injustice in the fact that many of the thousands of young men who were dying for America in Vietnam were not even legally old enough to vote in their county’s elections. In the present day, some have begun a new movement to once again lower America’s voting age, this time to sixteen. Some localities like Takoma Park, Maryland have already lowered the voting age to sixteen for all local elections, and many states allow for seventeen year olds to vote in state and presidential primaries. With recent elections highlighting dramatic political apathy among America’s youth, our nation must ask itself if lowering the voting age will generate fresh enthusiasm among young people towards civic engagement, or will it simply increase the size of America’s large number of young eligible voters who never make it to the polls?
Preventing sixteen and seventeen year olds from expressing their views inside the ballot box ignores the reality that millions of teenagers are just as politically informed as the rest of the voting population.
There are a plethora of issues, from education to climate change to the national debt, that will especially affect America’s future generations but are currently being ignored by politicians who have no incentive to address the concerns of the youth.
Our government trust sixteen year olds enough to allow them to drive 2 ton vehicles at many miles per hour. If these citizens are capable of doing something so complicated and dangerous as driving, surely they’re capable enough to know which candidates reflect their political beliefs.
Although many teenagers may be informed about political issues, the vast majority of them aren’t and couldn’t care less about them. It would be irresponsible for America to hand the reigns of power to such a politically apathetic demographic.
Most sixteen and seventeen year olds have not even finished high school, let alone taken a class in civics or government. We need to ensure our country’s voters have at least progressed to adulthood before we can assume they are capable of making informed decisions of such importance.
The American young people who are currently eligible to vote have some of the lowest turnout rates of any group in our democracy. Lowering the voting age even further will not address the issues of young voter apathy, it will merely extend it to millions of more teenagers.
For more background on the ratification of the 26th Amendment click here. For more information on where the voting age has already been lowered in the U.S. click here. For more information about the youth vote in the United States click here. For more arguments in favor of this resolution click here. For more arguments against this resolution click here.
Posted in Featured, National Debate of the Month, Uncategorized
Posted on October 3, 2016.
Link for reporting chapter debate results:HERE
October Debate of the Month: Resolved, that all Presidential candidates on enough state ballots to win a majority vote in the Electoral College be included in the Presidential Debates.
Brief: During the current Presidential Election we have seen the American public’s opinion of the two major-party candidates reach historic lows, while the support for alternative choices has never been higher. This leads many to question why the nationally-televised debates hosted by the Commission on Presidential Debates do not include any of the presidential candidates besides Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The Commission states that third-party candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, despite being on enough state ballots to be elected President, do not meet their minimum requirements for public support and therefore are not invited unless they reach 15 percent support among the voters in a series of respected Presidential preference polls. But considering most Americans would like to see third-party candidates included, is it time for the Commission to lax its rules and add the extra podiums, or do the current third-party candidates not receive enough support to justify their inclusion in these potentially election-deciding debates?
It is extremely unlikely that any third-party candidate could reach the Commission’s current polling threshold, because in order to get that level of support candidates would need to get their message out during a major televised event like a Presidential Debate where they could speak to tens of millions of voters who may not know who they are otherwise.
Both Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are on enough state ballots to be elected President of the United States via the Electoral College, therefore the Commission should allow the American people to hear from all the possibilities and not set an arbitrary threshold based on polling, which can often misrepresent the will of the voters.
The two-party system does not represent the broad spectrum of Americans’ political views, and considering both the current major-party candidates’ unpopularity, adding more points of view to the debates would better reflect the true ideological diversity of our democracy.
The Commission’s requirement that candidates reach 15 percent in 5 well-respected presidential preference polls is a totally acceptable qualifier because there is no possibility a candidate with less support could win the election.
The two current third-party candidates that this resolution would include, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, do not deserve to participate in the Presidential Debates because they are not remotely qualified candidates for the office, especially considering the former has a warrant out for her arrest and the later doesn’t even know what Aleppo is.
Two more candidates on the stage would be a distraction from the two candidates who could actually win the election, thus wasting the time of the American voters who want to hear from the person who will be their next President.
For information regarding the Commission on Presidential Debate’s requirements for candidates to be included click here. To see the two major candidates’ aggregated support in national polls since June click here. For an analysis of how significantly the Presidential Debates affect the election click here. For Governor Gary Johnson’s Presidential campaign website click here. For Dr. Jill Stein’s Presidential campaign website click here.
Posted in National Debate of the Month, Uncategorized