Electiontorial: Being a Teenager in a Blue State

Hedy Gutfreund Co-Editor-in-Chief Barack Obama will win Illinois. I normally wouldn’t say something like that for fear of jinxing it, but it’s true. No one campaigns to Illinois voters, yet Latin students pride themselves as being politically involved. As much as I wish my political involvement went past the Obama sticker on my computer and my rants in politics class, it doesn’t. I joined the Obama for America club when it started, but I didn’t go to any canvassing events in Ohio or Iowa. I blame this on two reasons other than my lack of time. First, I blame the Electoral College system. It basically renders votes in Illinois meaningless. So as wonderful it is to exercise the right to vote for the first time, a vote for Romney won’t do much but add to his popular vote tally. Thus, an Ohio vote counts more than an Illinois vote for Obama, which doesn’t make a terrible amount of sense democratically. I see where the Electoral College is beneficial; I really do. Otherwise, we’d ignore small states. But what it does to our political involvement is at least as bad, if not worse. More importantly, though, I blame the homogeneity of Latin. As Anthea will tell you in the next op-ed, we’re in this liberal, Obama bubble at Latin. (Not that I’m saying I mind that, but maybe it is something to mind.) At the Honors Politics debate, support for Obama’s policies was evident. I’m not the only one who has an Obama sticker on my computer, and I rarely hear political debates. It’s almost as if it’s assumed that we’re all democrats here unless someone says otherwise. Occasionally, I’ll walk into the junior locker bay and hear a debate (with the two same Republicans each time), but nothing changes. We’re not here trying to make this change. Is it that we don’t have time? Or is it something else? Boarding schools on the East Coast are wildly politically involved, and lots of other schools have active clubs to campaign. It’s not a ridiculously long drive to canvass in swing states like Iowa, and there are phone banks all over the city. At Latin, though, the political involvement seems limited to a few key students. Junior Annie McDonough is definitely one of those students. She says that she makes time to campaign for it because she cares about it so much and also because, as she says, “[campaigning] doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. That’s the big misconception. People underestimate the impact of an hour of phone calls, or a handful of conversations once a week. Those conversations go far.” So maybe it’s a little late now to clear up my schedule for this week to go to a phone bank (even though, as Annie reminded me, there’s still time to go to a phone bank this weekend), but I think that the realization that political involvement is more than talking the talk is an important one for students at Latin. I aspire to make time for campaigning, and I’d love to be more politically involved. I’m daring myself to stop making excuses next election season and start walking the walk. My liberal re-tweets can only go so far. I think we need to remember that our campaigning can impact our country, even if we’re not old enough to vote yet or live in a state where our votes won’t determine the Electoral College winner.]]>