In the great state of Kansas, the law is very clear: you must be 18 years old on election day to cast a vote. You just might recognize this rule - the 26th Amendment ensures its consistency across the entire United States. Kansas, however, forgot to add any caveat regarding how old a citizen must be to run for state office. As a result, six teenagers are running for Governor (the highest position one can hold in the state) in a completely legal, very inspiring way.
Before Valentine's Day, the minors running for Governor seems like a joke, but the #NeverAgain movement has lent their candidacy a poignant air of relevance.
Democrat Jack Bergeson, 16, was the first to enter the gubernatorial race. He was followed shortly thereafter by Republican Tyler Ruzich, 17, who reached out to Bergeson with an interest in collaboration: he wanted the pair to make a statement about the modern political climate. They were soon followed by Libertarian Ethan Randleas, Republican Dominic Scavuzzo, Republican Joseph Tutera, and Green Party candidate Aaron Coleman (all 16-17).
In response to the young candidates, Republican lawmaker Keith Esau is attempting to pass legislation that would set the minimum governing age at 18. Esau told the Kansas City Star:
We have age requirements on voters. Anybody who's running should be able to vote for themselves.
He may have a point, but it's also hard to argue with a statement Ruzich gave to The Washington Post:
You know, lots of people ask me, what can you, Tyler Ruzich, do for people my age? I say, we keep continuing these old man principles that aren't working. In [Alexander] Hamilton's time, someone my age could be commander of a frigate. Did the Founding Fathers consider that a 17-year-old might be governor? I don't know.
Though its fairly unlikely the youngsters will beat out their competitors (who count the current governor and Kansas Secretary of State among them), they're managing to inspire many with their dedication.
It's also hard to disregard these young men when the President of the United States won his office with a comparable amount of governing experience.
Though many reporters covering these young men in the news seem most interested in their age, the teenagers insist they have legitimate stances that deserve to be heard - now more than ever!
When asked about his stance on gun control by Soledad O'Brien, Ruzich replied:
If I'm making an enemy of the NRA, that's something I'm kind of proud of, to be honest. I've seen what gun violence does. It's time that we change the rhetoric and the discussion. Because clearly we are too far gone to say it's a mental illness problem.
Some of Tyler's other areas of concern include governmental transparency, reaching out to the youth, net neutrality, and subsidization of the agricultural class. Though he admits his chances of winning are slim, he intends to usher a new generation into the government. After all, many have had enough of the old one!