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July 04, 2006|by NICK MOHAR-SCHURZ

"Politics isn't about big money or power games; it's about the improvement of people's lives."

- The late U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.)




Governments make up the world's structure, designed to mend and preserve nations. America's next generation will soon take part in this future, but many teens from the Tri-State area confess they are behind in both local and world politics, and thus, unprepared for their roles as aspiring voters.

As teenagers take on this responsibility, their young minds "must no longer be protected from politics," argues Kristy Kennedy, 15, of Boonsboro. She and her friend, Jessica Keyser, 16, also of Boonsboro, feel especially left out of local politics. Both say they are enthusiastic about voting and becoming active in the community, but are excluded from this significant aspect of society, as it is not explained by adults. Kristy and Jessica admitted to not knowing much about the area's politicians. Further interviews reveal that few teens even know the name of Hagerstown's mayor.

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Local teens, like many of their adult counterparts, say they wish to remain up to date about the war on terror. Kristin Sabol, 16, of Martinsburg, W.Va., who generally supports President Bush, says she would like citizens "to be more informed." Her close friend, Lindsay Stine, 15, of Hagerstown, says she leans more towards the Democratic Party, but claims that the need for understanding is a shared request.

There are many teenagers who have no desire to vote or even follow the news.

Keith Rhodes, 16, of St. Thomas, Pa., says he has decided "it's not worth voting," as his voice will not alter the outcome.

On the other hand, Ray Ecker, 13, of Hagerstown, feels strongly that "Bush is bad." He says he wants Bush out of office because the "war is done and troops are still over there."

Ashton Frisby, 13, of Hagerstown, also dislikes the president, he says, but for "no particular reason."

Kristi Lee, 18, of Boonsboro, has friends in Iraq, so she is ready for this war to end, she says.

Some teenagers, however, are optimistic about Bush's presidency.

Morgan Gish, 16, of Boonsboro, considers herself a Republican and has faith in the president's decisions. She and her 14-year-old sister, Lindsey, believe the war in Iraq is justified, and that stabilizing the new democracy is inevitably going to take time.

When asked about the future, another staunch Bush supporter, Jimmy Sutch, 18, of Williams-port, mentions that "the next generation's main issue will be the environment, not warfare." With natural resources disappearing, he believes technological advancements should focus on better utilizing the earth's renewable energies, such as solar power, wind, and geothermal activity.

"I think it's important to get teens involved," says Usama Qadri, 18, a recent graduate of Smithsburg High School and the 2005-06 student representative to the Washington County Board of Education. He suggests kids "read the morning paper, or look over the headlines online." When asked about his views on Bush, he says the president "has good intentions. I just think he's more incompetent than (he is) bad." Usama says he used to be a Republican, but now considers himself "undecided."

The U.S. long has been the victim of an ongoing battle between liberalism and conservatism. The environment has consistently been a heavily talked-about issue of younger generations for decades. Then, citizens are sent off to war. Usama says to break this never-ending cycle of history, "we need some fresh blood, something new, a fresh new voice."

This is where we come in.

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