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It’s no secret that young people in the U.S. are less involved in politics than other age groups.
More accurately, it is clear that young people between the ages 18 to 25 vote at a lower rate than the rest of the population.
There have been so many theories as to why our generation is the most inactive demographic, but instead of jumping to conclusions, rather, let’s refer to statistics around the world.
The U.S., among many other countries has a voting age of 18.
An article in The Guardian made a list of the various countries around the world with a lower voting age.
They found that “The voting age is 16 and above in Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina […] Austria is the only country in the EU where 16 years olds can vote in general elections. Turnout is roughly the same as in other age groups.”
Austria presents an interesting example.
This suggests that lowering the voting age might cause younger individuals to be more or in this case, equally involved in politics as the rest of the country.
So the ultimate question is whether or not 16 year olds understand politics well enough to vote?
The answer is, they could.
Countries with a lower voting age have a greater amount of civic education in schools. In an interview with Bill Maher, Michael Moore argues, “It’s like drivers ed., at 16 they should be learning about how the government really works”.
Civics has never been any high school student’s favorite class, and that is because it serves to satisfy a required curriculum rather than to actually teach students how politics work.
In this same interview with Bill Maher, Bob Graham explains that we need to “reintroduce serious study of what it means to be a citizen in this country”.
He also suggests that our lack of civic education might be why “Donald Trump thinks he is going to be elected to be George III rather than president of the United States”. Graham is a very witty man.
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If the U.S. decided to lower the voting age, there would be some valid initial concerns. Debatewise.org released information that compared the reasons for and against a voting age of 16. One of the reasons against the change is that “18-25 year olds are the least likely to cast a vote at election time. […] Lowering the voting age still further is therefore likely to reduce turnout even more”.
Though this concern is valid, it focuses less on the voting age and more on the true underlying issues with youth voting in general.
Many young people who are eligible to vote claim that they do not want to participate in an election either because they do not like or understand politics, or they feel that the system is corrupt.
The second reason can be chalked up as normal, historical evidence of youth rebellion against “the man”, but the first reason is very concerning.
When asked, some eligible voters between the ages of 18-25 claimed they don’t like politics because it is so divided.
They said that they didn’t like the process of an election in general, or that candidates never seem genuine.
Every one can agree that these complaints come from a long history of politicians and/or candidates tap dancing around controversial questions, catering to a particular political party, or reiterating the same ideologies over and over again.
But everyone feels that way about politics to some degree. So while this is a turnoff for any intelligent voter, it does not get right down to the reasons why young people just don’t vote.
Young people’s complaints that they do not understand politics should be at the forefront of these low voting rate theories.
A polling website called, The Top Tens, did a polling to rate school subjects from best to worst according to anyone who visits the site.
Best, being the subject of the most value and importance, and worst being the least useful.
Their ranking is as follows:
And social studies, (i.e. politics) is not even in the top ten. Schools stress the importance of math and science to students starting at a very young age.
Perhaps, it is why our generation is so concerned about the environment.
The evidence clearly demonstrates that when students are given more opportunity to focus on a subject, (like millennials have been with environmental sciences), they carry that subject’s importance with them throughout their lives.
If social studies are so low on this poll, it is clear that the subject did not ensure the same kind of interest or importance as much as other subjects.
With inadequate curriculum for civic studies, it is no wonder that when asked why young people do not like politics they reply that they do not understand how it works!
It is even worse in college.
By this point in time, individuals have developed an understanding of their interests and aspirations for the most part.
Politics becomes this arduous and tedious practice of American culture that students feel apathetic towards.
Emory College’s newspaper, “Southern Changes” wrote an article about why the youth don’t vote.
They interviewed different students to get their opinions. One student explains, “Being a young person myself, I understand both the importance of being an active citizen of the United States, and the overwhelming, “it doesn’t affect me” syndrome”.
Topics like social security and welfare reform are things that young people have never needed to learn about, nor are they very interested in how these issues are dealt with by the government.
It becomes much easier to focus on their individual lives and studies than to be an active voice in the debate of social security benefits.
However, this way of thinking caters towards the stereotypical belief that millennials have a short attention span and lack of interest for things that do not affect their personal lives. But wait, these things really do.
In a recent New York Times article, Tamar Lewin explains that millennials are more likely to move back in with their parents than any other generation before them due to a decline in marriages and a terrible job market.
The economy has affected new graduates in a very bad way. Jobs are scarce and pay is poor, therefore, all of that student loan debt seems a bit problematic to pay back when one barely can find a minimum wage job.
These are things that come up in elections; these are things young people should be at the forefront of in politics.
Young people have to decide as a whole to actively participate in local and national reform that lessens the amount of acquired debt from school, and opens up more jobs with better wages.
This is not to say that young people turn a blind eye to these kinds of issues, this election has been an especially noisy one from this demographic due to candidate Bernie Sanders.
And yet, even with a candidate such as him, it is difficult to rely on 18 to 25 years old to participate in politics past the presidential election.
Young people initially were active supporters of President Obama, but quickly ceased any political action and barely voted in the most recent midterm elections.
The scary part is that if Sanders is not the Democratic candidate, many young people and their disdain for Hilary Clinton have declared that they will not participate in this election.
So do we blame millennials for being the things they are so often accused of being, or do we look at other countries and their youth voter participation, and decide that this is a systematic issue?
Reflecting back on the initial question of whether or not 16 year olds understand politics well enough to vote, the answer as of now is definitely not because our 18 to 25 year olds even claim to be uninformed and uneducated in politics.
But this does not have to be the case.
Evidence confirms that when you include citizens in civic endeavors at a young age, and you provide them adequate means of education for the subject, they do participate as much as other age groups.
For the U.S. it might not be the time to discuss lowering the voting age if we still do not have a more effective curriculum to educate and motivate young people in politics.
That should be the priority and then perhaps we can follow in other countries footsteps and lower our voting age.
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–Mr Kream Wynwood has a pretty unique vibe for an ice cream place. Run by a group of Miami DJs, the shop is the perfect place for those with a serious sweet tooth and an ear for rap.
-The shop is just over a year old and has become very popular.
-Ice cream flavors are named after famous rap stars. An example?: 2 Live Blue.
-The stated goal is to give people a great desert while also teaching them about hip hop culture and history.
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By MIA bites
This piece was originally published by our partner MIAbites.com and is produced by them.
Each week MIAbites will present the Weekly Nibble, a compilation of food events and happenings in and around Miami. Important to note, that we are winding down on the last two weeks of Miami Spice, so if you have yet to enjoy the special menu offerings of $39 Dinner and $23 Lunch this is the Last Call. Read our MIAbites “Spice Advice” here.
Thursday September 17- For the final Robata Rub Thursday at SUSHISAMBA Coral Gables, Executive Chef David Sears welcomes Special Guest Chef: Andres Barrientos The Official Smoke Whisperer of Miami Smokers. To complement SUSHISAMBA’s robata dishes and true to Miami Smokers style, menu highlights include Okeechobee Wild Boar Sausage with spiced aioli, guacamole purée, orange supreme, arugula, pickled peppers and a Pork Skirt Steak with sun ripe tomatoes, frisée, lardon crumble, creamed yucca purée by Chef Barrientos. Priced at $55 pp the meal includes 5 Robata selections and 2 cocktail pairings by Ocucaje Pisco. SUSHISAMBA 180 Aragon Ave. Coral Gables, FL305 448 4990.
Friday September 18th– The Forge Miami Beach welcomes the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®: “Local Flavor from Coast To Coast” for an evening that begins with a tasting reception featuring an exciting lineup of Miami’s finest chefs, including Timon Balloo, Cindy Hutson, Brad Kilgore, Giorgio Rapicavoli, and Cesar Zapata. Then, enjoy a unique four-course seated dinner designed by James Beard Award Winners Rocco DiSpirito and Christopher Lee, with Pastry Chef Sergio Navarro. Evening emceed by award-winning Miami Herald food editor Evan S. Benn. Tickets are $250. The Forge 432 W 41st St, Miami Beach, FL
Saturday September 19th– Benefiting the United Way of Miami, The Intercontinental plays host to the Second Annual Young Leaders’ B.Y.O.B.‘Build Your Own Brunch’ from 11-2 pm.. An interactive cooking and eating experience led by Chef Bradley Kilgore of Alter and two of his culinary friends: Chef Roel Alcudia of The Cypress Room and Chef William Crandall of the soon-to-open Izzy’s Fish and Oyster. Miami Herald food editor and new Young Leaders member, Evan Benn, will host the cooking extravaganza. Spend a Saturday with friends learning to make the perfect brunch, from start to finish. Tickets are $100 for Young Leaders and $125 GA. The Intercontinental 100 Chopin Plaza. Miami, FL
Saturday September 19th– Sur La Table, the retail destination for those with a passion for cooking and a love for food, will welcome the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®: “Local Flavor from Coast To Coast” into its kitchens for the third consecutive year. Free in-store activities of the day will include cooking demos by Taste America All-Star and James Beard-Award-winning chef Rocco DiSpirito, along with chef Cindy Hutson, who will showcase a recipe prepared with Lifeway Kefir. For the full schedule of events and more information, please visit www.jbftasteamerica.org/event/miami Sur La Table Mizner Park 438 Plaza Real Boca Raton, FL.
Saturday September 19th– 180 Degrees at The DRB is teaming up with the local organization, Caring about the Strays, for a special evening from 4-8 pm to help the non-profit’s mission. Volunteers for the program nurse abandoned or injured strays providing deserted animals with veterinarian consultations and necessary vaccinations. Chef Ryan Martin, a huge advocate of the rescuing program, wanted to create this event to help raise awareness to the cause in hopes that dogs, cats and other potential companions will find a new home. A minimum donation of $10 will go towards the non-profit which includes one free draft beer as well as happy hour privileges with beer and wine for 50% off a glass. 180 Degrees 501 NE 1st Ave, Miami, Florida 33132.
Saturday September 19th- Dinner Lab, the New Orleans based pop up dinner club concept is hosting Viaje -an Asian culinary voyage with a Mexican chef featuring Chef Santiago De La Fuente of Miami, who has created a menu that exemplifies global influences through the flavors of Asia, the techniques of the French and thru the eyes of the Mexican chef and culinary journey. Priced at $70 pp, Dinner Lab invites MIAbites readers to join for free using this link https://dinnerlab.com/signup/MIAbites
Saturday September 19th – Digest Miami’s RESCHEDULED Beach Feast presented by Afrohead Rum at the Surfcomber Hotel in Miami Beach celebrates Miami Spice with an oceanfront party featuring delicious bites, cocktails and music! From 7- 9 pm $45 General Admission: Includes entry at 8PM, unlimited food samples and one (1) complimentary Afrohead Rum cocktail. $100 VIP Access: Includes early entry at 7PM, unlimited bites, access to the private rooftop cabana deck presented by Afrohead Rum and a private VIP bar experience featuring complimentary Afrohead Rum cocktails. Digest Miami members get discounted admission. Tickets available on Eventbrite. The Surfcomber 1717 Collins Ave. Miami Beach FL.
Sunday September 20th– September is National Bourbon Month, so check out specialty cocktails at Dolce Italian, The Drawing Room and Makoto, but don’t pass up the Boozy Bourbon Brunch on Sunday September 20th 1-3 pm at 27 Restaurant. $75 pp includes 4 courses and 4 cocktails. Reservations required. 27 Restaurant @FreehandMiami 2727 Indian Creek Drive. Miami Beach. FL 305 531 2727.
Wednesday September 23rd- Every fourth Wednesday of the month, The Miami Beach Food Truck and Music Fest brings together some of the city’s finer food trucks, including GastroPod, Ms. Cheezious, Sakaya Kitchen, and Mushaboom. Local restaurants get in on the action too, this time Lou’s Beer Garden, Sazon, El Tumi de Oro, Mixturam, and others. There’s also music, but you can’t eat that. Feed your belly and your ears from 5 till 10 p.m. There’s no charge for admission, but you have to pay for the food. North Shore Park Band Shell 7275 Collins Ave. Miami Beach, FL33141 305-861-3616
Thursday September 24th- Following up on the success of the inaugural “Somm Slam” with The Genuine Hospitality Group, Uvaggio Wine Bar & Restaurant is pleased to announce their second Somm Slam with 50 Eggs/Swine where head “Wine-O,” Heath Porter of Uvaggio will go pour-to-pour against neighboring Wine Director, Daniel Toral. Wine buffs will be able to enjoy three different dishes accompanied by one wine pairing each from Porter and Toral. Attending guests will be able to partake in the event by choosing the winning sommelier. The showdown begins at 7 PM with limited seating. Cost per person is $100; which includes the reception, three courses with a total of six wines and dessert.Uvaggio Wine Bar 70 Miracle Mile. Coral Gables, FL.
( Information provided by numerous sources and subject to change. Please call ahead to confirm pricing, details and availability )
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