by Madeline Hopper '21
My experience with politics goes back to when I was little: door-knocking for Governor Martin O’Malley and my uncle who represented Prince Georges county. I’ve been taught that our democracy is one in which everyone is represented – even those who can’t vote. I know this idea of democracy is idealistic because some people don’t have the right to vote. Their right to vote could be affected by their age, if they were incarcerated, their citizenship status, if their governor puts their registration on hold, among other things. I know that we will never live in a true democracy where the majority of the people have the power in their hands. But I’ve met some people who are working pretty hard to make sure that that happens.
As a member of the National Committee for High School Democrats and co-chair of DC High School Democrats, my experience this past election cycle has been eye opening in terms of the youth movement that this country has. Over the summer, I attended a High School Democrats Summit. The people I met there were people who wanted the world to be a more equitable, safer place. We talked about gerrymandering with Senator Corey Booker and how to canvass with board members of the Democratic National Committee. But maybe the best part of the summit was when people shared their own stories – about who they were fighting for. My roommate Karen was a DACA recipient who was 17 and living in California. One night as we laid in our hot, rickety bunk beds at George Washington University, she told us the story of her family and how they sought safety in the US. She made me realize that we are not just fighting a “battle” for the sake of being a Democrat or a Republican, but we are fighting for people because behind every issue, there are real human lives attached.
When I reflect on our own community, I think about our walkout last year or crowds of students going to the Women’s March, and that is great. But, we are a school filled with connections and privilege that most other people our age don’t have. As a community, we are too easily swayed into a pattern of inactivity. Life gets busy, we have crunch weeks, or tests that just don’t fit right with the times of voter registration drives or phone banking. I totally get that, but as we hit a time that is so pivotal in the course of our country, I urge you to think about the people who are attached to issues that are important to you and to act accordingly.