Explore the Future of Politics in ‘The Youth Governor’

The story of Californian students competing in the hopes of becoming the next Youth Governor


‘The Youth Governor’ is a documentary featuring six students campaigning against each other for the title of Youth Governor.
Photo Credit: Greenwich Entertainment

Katheryn Peterson, Activities Director

Competing against six people for the attention of thousands of people in a crowd may sound like a nightmare to most, but for the students in “The Youth Governor,” it is their chance to stand out and make a difference for a club they believe in.

This documentary by directors Matthew and Jaron Halmy follows the Californian branch of the Youth in Government club. Divided into six different parties based on their political beliefs, teens from each party are nominated and set against each other for the title of youth governor. They rally for support to become one of the three to continue their campaign. The majority of the documentary follows the three finalists in their journey to the top. 

At the beginning of the film, it was hard to become invested in any one person or storyline as it jumped around from six different students, but as the film progressed, I grew devoted to the election and its outcome. By the halfway mark I began rooting for Piper. She had to run with a party that did not share her more liberal beliefs, and she wasn’t sure they would even vote for her. However, she stuck it out and did her best to ensure everyone in her conservative party would be represented.

One of the better parts of the film was how Halmy portrayed these teens in the same light you might portray a real governor in office. They were treated as respectable, confident and more than capable of running their program. It was nice to see how anytime a problem arose, an adult never swooped in and fixed everything. Instead, each candidate worked through issues with their team. It was also easy to relate to their struggles with insecurity, pressure and past mistakes and how they persisted anyway.

Though this was a mock election among students, the politics between parties reflected real politics. One aspect I found interesting was the social media app featured for the students that allowed for anonymity. The app influenced each campaign almost every step of the way. The secrecy allows students from the whole club to post hateful comments about each of the candidates.

Altogether, this film was enjoyable. It was something I felt I could relate to and learn from. There was plenty of drama that kept me engaged despite it being a documentary. Despite its flaws, the film is an interesting documentary that is easy to relate to, and feel compassion for each of the candidates. Walking away from this film, I felt inspired to be more involved in local government, learning about politics and government after seeing these people’s passion for it.