Eric Smith will turn 18 just after Election Day.
It’s a cruel twist of fate for the Dearborn resident and Lutheran High School senior, who has proven to care more about politics and civic issues than most adults.
But Smith is luckier than most teens, because he knows what his passion is, and is pursuing it vigorously—most recently, by attending the Republican National Convention.
“(The convention) was cool for me because I always felt no one my age paid attention to politics,” said Smith, who was chosen to attend with other like-minded teens as the winner of an essay contest through Junior Statesmen of America. “It was the fastest and best week of my life.”
And it solidified his future focus in politics—an interest Smith said he’s had since watching the 2004 convention with his grandmother.
“I kept asking her more and more questions,” he recalls.
Questions turned into action as Smith began to volunteer for local and national races, including at the Victory Center in Farmington and for Rick Santorum’s campaign for president during the 2012 primary season.
His unfortunate birthday hasn’t stopped him from following candidates, watching the presidential and vice presidential debates, and forming opinions about big issues.
”Our generation just wants to have everything immediately. You have to put more in if you want more out of your government."
He believes education will play a big role in election debates to come, and that the Republican and Democratic parties are “closer than they think they are” on the direction America’s public education system should take.
Smith also thinks it’s still important for the “Twitter Generation” to do more than watch YouTube videos to learn about political issues. Instead, they should get involved, volunteer, pay attention to the presidential debates and really learn about and discuss candidates as they prepare to vote.
“Our generation just wants to have everything immediately,” Smith said. “You have to put more in if you want more out of your government.”
In his fellow attendees of the RNC, Smith knew he was among passionate peers like himself—and it empowered him.
“I saw all these people who care so much about politics,” he recalled. “It was inspiring for me to meet them.”
But when it came down to it, he added, “We were still kids.”