Young legislator rocks the vote

Addison Smith | Opinions Editor

Saira Blair has officially become the youngest state lawmaker in the country as of Election Day 2014.

Blair, 18, won a seat on the state legislature in West Virginia, defeating her opponents with 63 percent of the vote. She garnered support from the NRA and was too young to vote for herself in the primary.

On Tuesday May 13, Blair defeated incumbent Del. Larry Kump in her Martinsburg-area primary by a vote of 872-728, according to The Washington Post. The current West Virginia University freshman ran an anti-abortion, pro-Second Amendment, abortion and gay marriage opposing platform.

Her district has historically voted red, with 2/3 of their votes consistently going to the Republican Party. After she won the primary, she had to have known she was going to be the front-runner for her district.

Here is a young woman who wasn’t able to help get herself on the ballot in May and she is entering the state legislature. According to The Washington Post, her main plan is to listen to her constituents. She has no legislating experience and she plans on making decisions based on what her constituents think should happen.

So, yes, hooray for girl power and for a youthful face sitting in a position of power, but that should also be terrifying. Here is a person who has just graduated high school and she will be making important state decisions. If that thought alone doesn’t make you stop and think, I don’t know what will.

This isn’t to say initiative is a bad thing and all young people shouldn’t aim for something, so please do not take it as such. Initiative is great and as young leaders, we are the future. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to legislate right now, and I am a senior in college who has taken politics courses.

That’s not to say Blair is going to falter, but there is a difference between writing a paper for your AP Government class and writing a law. There’s a difference between a class debate and a floor debate. All things are not created equally.

Here is a conservative 18-year-old who will decide laws in the state of West Virginia. On Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, he recently discussed how much power state legislatures have. While Congress seems to barely churn out laws, state legislatures pass laws with a lot more frequency, and these laws actually have serious implications.

Gay marriage and abortion laws fall under state power, not federal power, and here is a freshly elected 18 year old female state legislator who opposes both of these topics. While, yes, West Virginia is a conservative state, there are still rights to our own bodies and whom we choose to love that shouldn’t be imposed on by the state.

Yes, former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl started his political career early, as did other remarkable politicians, but each of them had some sort of college under their belts, while Blair is going to be legislating while attending classes at WVU. That’s some serious multitasking that most college students wouldn’t be able to  handle.

A hot topic of debate within the U.S. recently has been gun laws and the Second Amendment, which reads that citizens have “a right to bear arms”. Blair’s platform relied heavily on her being pro-gun, so much so that the NRA endorsed her as a candidate. That’s terrifying that someone so young holds so much power and was endorsed by an interest group with even more power.

So, hooray for youth reshaping the United States, but let’s tread carefully in electing those who may not be able to be effective leaders. She may be the best legislator, she may be the worst, but one thing is for certain, she is the youngest. Yes, we are the future, but maybe we are a more educated, more open future.

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