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Eight years ago when my older sister was my age, few teens seemed interested in politics. They were all old enough to remember seeing the first Black man elected president, but even that wasn’t enough to get them interested. In 2013, politics seemed like a boring subject only adults talked about at the dinner table, never something teens would actively discuss.

Enter Donald Trump.

I was 11 when Trump was elected president. I was already becoming interested in politics through the 2016 campaign, but I became heavily interested because of Trump and the effect he had on the political landscape of the United States after he took office. Most Americans eventually fell into one of two categories: those who supported him and those who didn’t. This divide became so decisive that many still argue about it, and he’s been out of office for almost a year.

While I may not like him, I cannot lie: Trump made politics much more interesting and entertaining. He would say the most offbeat things, things no politician would ever imagine saying. I believe this is where a lot of his appeal came from, the fact that he always spoke his mind, even if what he was thinking was controversial. Political issues have always been controversial, but Trump made it OK for the public to express themselves about issues much more openly and strongly.

Trump’s use of social media was revolutionary. While social media is relatively new, he mastered the art of social media much better than former President Barack Obama. He used platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to get his messages across faster, and I think this played a huge role in teen involvement with politics. It was easy for Trump to always be in the minds of young people because he spent most of his time using the platforms young people use the most. It became easy for people to share their opinions on the president, and this caused so much debate over the internet.

People became more and more divided with every decision presidential decision he made. Social media made it easy for people to bash one another for their political opinions, and Trump made it seem OK for people to do this with no filter, no sense of respect and in a very childish way.

It’s still rare for me to go a day without seeing a post or comment related to Trump on my own social media feeds. Even nearly a year since he left office, debates rage between people who think he’s the worst president this country has ever had and those who believe he’s the great American savior who will free us from the tyranny of an oppressive government. Many of those arguing are teenagers. They make a good point that Trump’s presidency will affect their lives more than the lives of previous generations. I believe this is the biggest reason teens are so involved with politics now, because they know today’s politics will determine the world they’ll one day inherit.

Trump was and continues to be one of the most controversial figures in the history of this country. It’s going to be years until we know the full effects of his presidency, as he remains beloved by his followers and could run for a second term in the next presidential election. Trump was able to bring so much awareness to American politics in ways we’ve never seen before. That could be good or bad depending on who you ask, but I do know that so many teens are now heavily invested in national politics, and Trump is the reason why.

Ian Hernandez-Rojas is a junior at The MASTERS Program. Contact him at ianhernandezrocks@gmail.com.

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