What Young People Need to See in the 2020 Presidential Candidates


Julia Tran

Senior Amira Tripp Folsom shows the form to register to vote.

Brooke Heth, Staff Reporter

The 2020 presidential election is in full swing even though election day isn’t for another year. For young people in general, and for myself in particular, three of the most pressing issues of interest this year are climate change, gun control, and immigration. These are important because they have the potential to greatly impact the world, affecting not just young people, but our future as well.

One of the most crucial issues to me and many others is climate change. On Sept. 20, many young people, including students from La Salle, took to the streets to demand action in a worldwide climate strike. Protesters in New York City chanted, “You had a future, and so should we,” and “We vote next.” These chants demonstrate the fact that young activists will not back down. 

A specific face to this entire movement has been 16 year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden. She started by advocating for climate change in her country and then recently moved her voice to the U.S., speaking at important events such as the United Nations Assembly. 

Greta has been very empowering to teens around the world regarding climate change. She has inspired them to fight until something beneficial for all is reached. She should be a well-known inspiration to us all as we work to reduce the effects of climate change.

 Young people are taking initiative by fighting for change and demanding action. Many will vote in the next election, which should propel the candidates to act. 

If young people can inspire candidates to act, they should be able to inspire the current president to act as well, right? Unfortunately, that has not been the case. President Trump once described climate change as a hoax, and has taken the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Climate change has had and will continue to have a serious effect on the world if nothing is done about it. Why? This is because it has the ability to completely wipe out entire ecosystems and cause food shortages, among many other things. 

Along with climate change, another pressing issue to young people right now is gun control. In recent years, the increase in school shootings has spurred attention and demands for change in gun laws from young people. If young people who have experienced shootings themselves can fight for stricter gun control laws, so can everyone else. 

The Week magazine recently reported that “Walmart announced that it will stop selling ammunition for handguns and assault-style rifles.” In addition, “Walmart has already taken assault-style weapons and handguns off its shelves,” and has asked “customers to not openly carry firearms in its stores.” Walmart is taking a stand and “following the will of the people.” High school students should be concentrating on their coursework, not active shooter drills. For young people, action is so much more important than words and Walmart taking action should inspire candidates to do so as well. 

In order to take action, we should ban assault weapons and impose stricter background checks to determine who is capable of owning a gun and who isn’t. 

Unfortunately though, that does not seem to be the route our current president is interested in taking. In 2000, President Trump said, “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.” From this, we can gather that he seems to have mixed feelings on the subject. Will he care depending on the circumstance? Maybe. 

Like climate change and gun control, immigration is also a very big deal right now with all of the controversy surrounding President Trump’s policies involving building a border wall and limiting access for asylum seekers. In addition, President Trump has implemented a drastic change to the number of refugees allowed in the U.S., lowering the annual number of refugees being accepted from 30,000 to 18,000. 

Moreover, back in 2018, President Trump enforced a “zero tolerance” policy, which prosecuted  immigrants who entered the country illegally, and separated children from their families, causing widespread outrage. This was chronicled in the PBS news report, Separated: Children at the Border. Immigrants are coming for asylum, then being treated horribly once they get here.  

Current immigration policy has caused immigrant families and parents of U.S. born children to stop using government services out of fear of separation. It is alarming when young undocumented people, often called Dreamers, have to speak out about their safety, saying that “it’s disappointing to see so many politicians not follow through, and to see politicians play with our lives.” 

Presidential candidates who care about youth issues should take on immigration, working to create a more humane and just system.  President Trump believes the United States must adopt an immigration system that serves the national interest and protects American workers, removing unlawful entrants and keeping others out. He is putting America first, which is good, but he is shutting out the rest of the world in doing so, and America should be a country that helps all. 

As teenagers, we have a right to be a voice for children in all the world. Presidential candidates should act as America always has and help us be a country who accepts all again.

Climate change, gun control, and immigration are huge for young people, myself included, right now. Young people are passionate about and standing up for these important issues, so we should be supporting candidates who emphasize their importance as well. 

We are not just looking to the Democratic candidates for hope. We are looking to the world for hope. If the presidential candidates don’t act on these issues, our country will not be as strong as it could be. The president has a lot of power, but it takes a village to make a country strong.