Wednesday, November 2, 2016
I've voted in every presidential election since I was 18 years old and many of the in-between elections. I like to vote. I like to get an I-voted sticker. I like voting particularly because it's a day when I get to express my opinion and influence the world around me.
I know a lot of people feel discouraged about voting because they are afraid that their vote will not make a difference, maybe they don't like the candidates, or they just don't feel informed about the issues. I believe that our votes do count and that every vote does make a difference. Although there is a lot to learn about politics, the more I learn about it, the more I learn how important it is and how much it affects our day to day lives as well as the youth that we influence.
Many youth are just becoming old enough to vote. They may feel, excited, scared, overwhelmed, discouraged, or hopeful. They may even feel all of the above. I personally wish that they would teach more civics in school. What I learned in school about the Constitution and the way that they government works has enabled me to be a better citizen and influence who I am as a person. I don't know if they still teach this. Even if they do, there is always more to teach. I'm really glad to see web-sites like Rock the Vote and the Teaching and Learning page from The Learning Network web-site which includes an innovative activity called Our Civil Conversation Challenge for Teenagers. The challenge includes open forums regarding the election that teenagers can engage in. I think this is great. The more we learn and talk about politics and the government in our country, the better country we will have.
I have very strong feelings about this election as I have had about every election that I've participated in. However, I would say that my feelings about this election are stronger than they ever have been before. I have lived through many elections and I have never seen a candidate like Trump that seemed to so openly defy everything that, to me, America represents, ideas like freedom and democracy as well as offending such large parts of our population. I am upset that people, especially youth, have to see and hear such terrible things every day, let alone have to live under him as president. Emotionally, it's been a very difficult election, but I know that means that rather than getting discouraged, I need to get even more involved. I think voting is probably the most important thing we can do to change the world for ourselves and for the youth that we work with.
My questions are:
1. What can we encourage young people to turn out to vote?
2. How can we improve Civics education in America?
3. How can we get involved at a political level and make America a better place for everyone?