Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Question of Independence for 16-year-old Scots

This past week, Scotland held a momentous election - to vote whether or not it should become an independent nation after 300 years of living under British rule. But after the vote on Thursday, Scotland maintained its position as a part of the United Kingdom (55% no, 45% yes).  Alex Salmond, now former leader of the SNP, had specifically lowered the voting age to 16 and 17 year olds, primarily because the younger generations of today tend to be more progressive and open minded when it comes to breaking old traditions and accepting new ones.  He had been sorely mistaken.  A majority of the teenagers had voted against Scotland's independence, their decisions shocking both Salmond, as well as myself.

As a 16 year old myself, I can understand why many of the teenagers voted against such a huge change to their country.  These voters have the most at stake in this situation.  Their youth means that they will have to live with the consequences and implications longer than any other voter. "I'm part of the next generation of young people who will be left with the legacy of this referendum where the ramifications of the result will be felt throughout our lives," said Stephen Anderson, 17. Their youth also means they still have an authoritative figure making decisions for them and taking care of them-- sort of like how Britain takes care of Scotland in a sense.  They're not ready for "independence" as 16 year olds and their votes show similar feelings for Scotland.  Putting myself in their position, I would have voted against independence as well, opting for the safer choice.  It's easier to chose what you know rather than the unknown, especially when it determines the fate of your own country.

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