Why the Trump Indictments Should Matter to High Schoolers

Trump speaking to a crowd during a rally in Tulsa, OK on June 20, 2020. Trump has built a large “fan base” in spite of his many problematic actions. 

President Trump at his Tulsa Rally. -06-20. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .
Trump speaking to a crowd during a rally in Tulsa, OK on June 20, 2020. Trump has built a large “fan base” in spite of his many problematic actions. President Trump at his Tulsa Rally. -06-20. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, .

Former president Donald Trump is no stranger to controversy, being the subject of many debates surrounding questionable actions before and during his presidency. Now, he is the subject of legal controversy, facing four indictments for these actions. Comprising two federal cases and two state cases, indictments against a former president are an unprecedented event. Trump and his indictments are at the top of the news cycle, but why as high schoolers should we even care?

The first indictment was filed Mar. 30 by the State of New York. The indictment addressed Trump’s payments to his former attorney, Michael Cohen, who allegedly paid $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Trump pleaded not guilty to all 34 counts in the indictment, and a trial date is scheduled for Mar. 25, 2024. 

Trump was indicted for a second time on Jun. 8 by a federal court in Florida. With 40 charges in total, the indictment was in response to Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents illegally kept at his Mar-a-Lago resort that were taken from the White House following his presidency. He pleaded not guilty to all counts and his trial is scheduled for May 2024. 

An unprecedented third indictment was released on Aug. 3 by the federal court in Washington, D.C. Trump was charged with four counts in relation to his alleged interference in the peaceful transition of power following the 2020 election. Trump and six unnamed co-conspirators allegedly spread damaging misinformation and lies about Joe Biden’s win, leading to the shocking attack on our capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump pleaded not guilty to these charges and a trial was scheduled for Mar. 4, 2024. 

The final indictment against Trump was released Aug. 14 by the State of Georgia in Fulton County. Trump and 18 others are charged under Georgia’s RICO law, for their alleged coordination of an attempt to subvert the certification of Biden’s win in the state by creating a slate of fake electors to present to the Electoral College. Trump pleaded not guilty to all 13 counts, and a trial date is yet to be scheduled. 

In light of the historically significant and unprecedented charges the former president is facing, questions have arised about how this could impact the upcoming 2024 presidential election. Trump is currently running for the Republican Party nomination, although his success could be complicated by his legal problems. Despite this, Trump is still the frontrunner for the nomination, presenting an unique challenge for our country this election. What does it mean if we support a former president who has been charged multiple times with unlawful behavior, including actions that attempted to hinder the democratic transfer of power?

Andrew Merritt is the AP Comparative Government and AP U.S. Government teacher at State High, along with being the student government advisor. He teaches about American politics in his classes, as well as the importance of voting. 

“No doubt that the if you follow the polling right now, even with the indictments, not a conviction, President Trump is still far and away the candidate for the Republican Party, which is ironic, in many ways,” Merritt said. “The Republican Party has always touted itself as the ‘law and order’ party that follow the laws and and we now have an indicted, potentially convicted former president who is going to run for president and there’s nothing in the Constitution that stops him from doing that.”

With these unique considerations, it is all the more important that young people stay informed about the news, especially with events like Trump’s indictments being front and center. High school students are in their formative years, deciding what their morals are and in turn what they will support in a politician. 

“Between around 12 to 24 are your formative ages. That’s when it gets decided if you’re going to become politically active and be civically engaged or if you’re just going to sit back and not engage in the political process,” Prithvi Narayanan, State High student government president, said. “Reaching out to young folks and letting them know that your voice matters is going to be really influential, especially in the these next couple of elections because the percentage of the population that is 30 or less is going to become the biggest voting block.”

Even with the increasing number of young voters, getting adequate turnout is challenging. Younger people typically have more progressive views, but struggle with showing up to the polls. For high school students, the world of voting and politics may seem daunting, but by the time 2024 rolls around many high schoolers will turn 18 and have the opportunity to vote in their first election.

 “Younger people have more progressive views than the older generations, so I think it’s really important [young people] vote especially because every vote does matter and we are a pretty big population,” senior Violet Doyle said. Doyle plans on voting in the 2024 election. 

No matter what your views are, progressive or not, it is imperative that you are represented in upcoming elections. If you are of legal age to vote, the process to register may seem nerve racking and like a jump into adulthood, but it is also a monumental occasion that shows you are old enough to participate in our democracy. And the process is relatively easy. 

“You can do it right online at Vote.PA.Gov,” Merritt said. 

Once you fill out the required information, which includes the last four digits of your social security number or your driver’s license, along with some other legal information, you can submit your registration. 

“In about two weeks, you’ll get a card back. Then, the first time you vote in your state, you’ll take the card with you to your polling place. You’ll walk in and they’ll look at your card, check you off, you sign a document and a sheet of paper. You can go vote and the process takes three minutes,” Merritt said. 

If you are not yet able to vote, there are still many ways you can get involved. Both the Centre County Democratic Committee and the Centre County Republican Party offer volunteering opportunities at the local level. Many of these opportunities are available to high school students, and they provide a hands-on introduction to politics and civic engagement.

Getting involved is not restricted to just volunteering, it can be as simple as reading the news and discussing with friends at lunch. By talking about these topics, you are developing your own ideas and values as well as learning other perspectives. 

Understanding and interpreting the news through your own unique lens helps you to prepare for entering the voting world, and making informed decisions regarding your future. 

This upcoming election season, high schoolers need to enter the political world. Our votes will matter this election, and they will continue to matter for decades more. To break the stereotype that young people do not vote proportional to our population, we need to show up and pay attention to what is happening. So, when you vote in 2024 or debate it with friends and family, think about what you would like in a candidate. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to Lions' Digest
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of State College Area High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Lions' Digest
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Lions' Digest Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *