An Open Letter to the New House of Representatives (From a Teen)

Dear newly elected House members,

It's January, meaning the beginning of not only a New Year, but also the beginning of your new session. Can you believe we're in the 114th session already? Abraham Lincoln, Joseph Pulitzer and Donna Edwards graced the same room that you find yourself in. Pretty crazy to wrap your mind around, isn't it?

As a teen, I'm not going to pretend like I know a whole lot about politics. I'm currently in AP Government and Politics and received a 5 on my AP United States History exam, but memorizing laws and current affairs issues somehow isn't as easy as memorizing the newest One Direction song. I'm young, and I have a lot to learn, and that's okay.

However, one thing I do know is that this is 2015, a year of opportunity and progression towards America's goals. It doesn't take a political analyst to look at the headlines today and know that there are serious issues affecting not just our nation, but also our world today. Police brutality, ISIS threats and outbreaks of Ebola are only just a sample of the stories we see on TV, and the fear that ignites each citizen's heart.

This year, I urge each and every one of you to take the courage necessary to look past your differences, and take an honest look at the best solution for America. Know that change isn't limited to the mission statement of a political party, but rather in the bravery and adventure of celebrating different views. Go outside your comfort zone to look at what the other side sees. Think critically, but not close-mindedly. If we want it to be a year of change like we've dreamt of for so long, then we're going to have to jump outside the boundaries of our fixedness and explore the perspectives, cultures and views of others.

This year, I also urge you to look at the next generation with a sense of hope. We might be teens, quoting lines from The Fault in Our Stars and eating endless amounts of pizza, but if you give us a chance to share our voice, you won't regret it. If we are the future of America like everyone says we are, then it is time to focus our efforts in training, leading and empowering the next generation of leaders. If you can look past our emojis and constant fangirling, you might find the cure to cancer, the next hit single, the upcoming bestselling novel or the leading activist in women's rights.

Pretty soon, we'll be at the legal age to vote, and it'll be our selection that will make a difference in American politics. Don't forget us, because when you do, you're silencing the people that will one day be responsible for the succeeding generation. When you empower the youth of the United States, you'll receive a bigger return on your investment than you can imagine. Let us speak. Let us learn. Let us be heard.

I'd like to say we have enough time, but in reality, we don't. The world is moving faster and faster, developing countless innovations a day and simultaneously breathing, eating and sleeping. As we look to the bright possibilities that the future has, remember that we're counting on you. This year can be the year that historians look at in fifty years with admiration, reverence and wonder. We can overcome the problems that our country faces, if we are open enough to give others a chance. We can be remarkable, or we can be repetitious. We can be awesome or we can be apathetic. We can revolutionize or rewind. The choice is yours.

All my best,
Julia Schemmer