Opinion The Tattoo

I’d like to help you son, but you’re too young to vote

“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”
— Jello Biafra

BRISTOL, Connecticut, U.S.A. — There’s going to be an election. Someone is going to be mayor. Someone will always be mayor. He’ll kiss pigs. He’ll praise Miss Bristol. He’ll speak at the Mum Festival. He’ll be passionately against blight. Does anyone think blight is a good idea? Does it really matter, to anyone under 18, who it is, provided he’s taller than the podium?

Maybe. Maybe not.

If you’re the average Bristol teenager, you know the score — our high schools are so far behind technologically it’s not worth knowing where the computer labs are, the town’s only entertainment (outside of sex and alcohol) is the occasional high school musical, and downtown is, well, laughable.

As long as the economy is good, it’s said, those who can and will vote will cast their ballots for as little change as possible. And that’s probably true.

Feel differently? Too bad. You don’t vote.

When was the last time anyone in a position to effect any of this asked you how you felt about Bristol? And what would you say?

The truth of the matter is that very little of what’s done in Bristol has anything to do with teens. The city, the Board of Education, the chamber of commerce all have acceptable teenage public facades from beauty queens to student representatives, but they’re there, almost without exception, to prove how concerned the Big People are while we play at the kid’s table.

It smacks of my generation’s unceasing cynicism, but it’s true. We don’t vote. We don’t pay a substantial share of the city’s taxes. Heck, most of us don’t even watch the news or read the paper.

We can’t even score acceptably on math and reading competency tests. Is it wrong that the city as a whole seems so indifferent toward us? Of course.

But who can blame them? We have nothing to bargain with.

If you want to make an impact, establish credibility and go for it yourself, from the ground up.

It’s the issues that are important, not the man. Write something. Draw something. Learn something. Teach something.

In a town the size of Bristol at least, and with Bristol’s lotus eating mentality, it’s not about who’s in office. The town is largely a self-sustaining entity. Public opinion will dictate that which needs to be done is done.

The worst that can happen is that, when you come return from college for Thanksgiving or Christmas, downtown hasn’t turned into the hotbed of consumer activity/ Norman Rockwell portrait the city seems to think it ought to be.

There’s going to be an election. Someone will be mayor. Someone will always be mayor. Let’s hope he’s amusing.

Joe Wilbur is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.

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