This is my first election.

While I was alive for previous ones — Bush in 04, Obama in 08 and 2012 — this is the first time in my life that I have felt like I am immersed in America’s current political situation. With figures as polarizing as Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, this probably isn’t the best time for me to start. Baptism by fire, one might say. These past 18 months have been very formative for me and I am working towards aligning myself with a political party. That being said, I am not writing this to inform you on who I support, although it may become evident. I can guarantee that a 15 year old’s opinion on politics is not worth much to many people and that’s OK. The reason I am writing this is to share with you the effects that this election is having on my peers.

Specifically, I wish to share with you the effects that Donald Trump’s campaign has on teenage boys and girls. All things considered, I am not the only teenager who is shaping their political views based on this election. I fully respect all opinions and I understand that politics is not the best subject of conversation. However, it is a conversation that needs to take place now more than ever. I am 15 years old. I am a boy. As you can imagine, a lot of conversations that I hear from my friends and other peers aren’t ones that many people would consider to be intelligent. I am obviously not immune to this. I say stupid things myself. I do not mean to come off as an angel here, I am simply expressing the reality of teenage conversation. I have been noticing a pattern, though. More and more I hear talk from boys my age that sounds increasingly racist, misogynistic, and immoral. Does this mean that kids my age are racist women haters? Of course not. I understand that this is what is known as “boy talk”, I just don’t think this has to be the norm. I think that they are feeding of something bigger. I have come to my own personal conclusion that Donald Trump is the catalyst.

Donald Trump’s campaign is ruining the minds of our county’s young men and women. Here is a man that has spent his whole life degrading women and being a racist, self-centered fool (I am being generous with the use of fool). The worst part is that Americans are condoning it. This is what our country’s young men are exposed to. Not only is this man making this horrendous comments, but he is getting away with it. How could this man possibly set an example for our kids when he has the judgment of a 10-year-old on a sugar high? What we need is a leader that empowers women, not degrades them. We need a leader who preaches love, not hate. This is bigger than politics. These are basic human values. When teenage boys see this on TV and social media, they subconsciously assume that this behavior is acceptable. It’s not. This is only contributing to a widespread epidemic of hyper-masculinity among young men. If a teenage boy sees his country’s leader disrespect women, who’s to say he won’t do the same. If you disrespect women as a teenager, who’s to say that this disrespect won’t turn into domestic violence? Sure, this is unlikely, but it definitely isn’t impossible. Trump’s recent comments glorifying sexual assault are disgusting, but also terrifying. While everyone seems to focus on the gross “grab them by the p*ssy” comment, no one seems to shine a light on the fact that he is literally condoning sexual assault by saying, “I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything” when talking about kissing women. These comments were not shocking coming from this man, but the thing that disturbs me the most is that people still endorse him and people my age just don’t seem to care. When a boy views sexual assault as something you can do if you’re a star, it’s only promoting rape culture. That isn’t what we need. We need boys to treat girls with respect, not objectify them as something that can be used at their disposal. When we condone people like Donald Trump, we end up with kids like Brock Turner.

This isn’t just impacting teenage boys. Donald Trump’s misogyny is doing damage to our country’s young women as well. When girls see women objectified like they are by Trump, how could they possibly aspire to be successful? In these past few decades, this country’s women have been making tremendous strides to erase the male dominated work-force, but there is still work to be done. As much as people don’t like to talk about it, sexism is one of the last tolerated forms of discrimination in our country, especially in the workplace. One way to combat workplace sexism is equal pay for equal work. People love to dispute the claim that men don’t get payed more on the dollar than women, but statistics prove this to be true time and time again. The only way to do this is to pass laws to get rid of the gender wage gap. Trump is in not going to do anything about this gap. This is the same man who was sued in January for making discriminatory remarks towards women working for his campaign as well as not paying them as much as their male counterparts doing the same job. If we want women to be viewed as equals in our society (as they should be), this man should not be the head of our country. I don’t want my peers to see Donald Trump as someone they should aspire to be like. I want my peers to respect all genders, races, and cultures.

The only way to achieve this is to not only keep Donald Trump out of office, but to publicly shame his disgusting behavior as candidate for President of the United States. Don’t let this man influence the future of our country. If he has done this much damage in such a short amount of time, imagine what it will be like for four years. If we are trying to move in the right direction, this is not where we should start.

At 15, I cannot change anything come November. I can only hope that America does the right thing, which is to keep this man as far away from Washington as possible. When you go to the polls on November 8th, understand that you are not only voting for yourself but also for the future of our country. Vote. Vote your conscience. Vote for those of us that can’t. Make sure your friends and family votes. This election is pivotal. We cannot afford to have this man in office. I do not want Donald Trump to be my President.

Donald Trump will not “Make America Great Again”, he will only make us hate again. He will not unite us, he will only divide us. America is much greater than this man.