I cannot tell you how many times I have been told that my interest in politics is a waste of time. From parents to peers to professors, they all said the same thing: the government is what it is, and there is no way to change it, especially at your age!As a politically motivated middle-school student (and let me tell you, I was a rare breed), I could not figure out what to do for the ever-telling school Career Day. It was my understanding that my entire professional future relied on this day.
Naturally, I approached my parents with my dilemma. Both artists, they gave me wise advice: "Whatever you do, if you want to make money, don't be an artist." Even at my young age, that was common sense.
Knowing I enjoyed politics, and with the deadline approaching, I contacted my local Congressman via his online 'suggestion box' with a plea to visit him for Career Day.
To my surprise, his office responded and they said I was permitted to follow Congressman Greenwood all day. I couldn't believe it! For some reason, my middle school friends were not as ecstatic as I was.
I remember two things from that day with Congressman Greenwood: his inability to stop calling me Alfred and his informing me of the Congressional Page Program. Needless to say, I focused more heavily on the latter.
Never letting that dream out of my head, I became a Congressional Page in my junior year, and still, for some reason, my now high school friends remained unenthusiastic about my political life.
Today, as I leave high school and enter college, I have begun to accept that my passion for politics is never going to ever be accepted by my peers, but by no means will that slow me down.
I am starting this column because day after day, I read newspapers without ever seeing the views of my generation represented, and without strikingly important questions ever being asked, let alone answered. And considering the entire purpose of politics is to preserve our nation and its integrity for generations to come, I see it as more than appropriate to hear what the youth have to say.
I recently braved the cold to travel up to New Hampshire to witness the 'first in the nation' primary. From rallies to the debates and forums to the streets, I was perplexed at the lack of substance of the political circus going on around me. There were, however, more than enough clowns. At more than one campaign event, I witnessed frantic campaign aides removing empty chairs so that the room would 'appear more crowded to the cameras.' On more than one street corner, I failed to achieve coherent definitions of "healthcare" from scores of supporters representing every side of the aisle. When I ventured to see a "public debate," I couldn't help but notice that the audiences were bused in by the respective campaigns, and I could not turn left (or right, to be politically representative) without police questioning where I was going, what I was doing, and why someone my age would be interested in politics.
I do not know about you, but I think our elections ought to be open for discussion, and our candidates ought to be open for questioning! I would like to see a debate during which candidates are allowed to actually speak to each other. I would like to see an election out of the hands of the media!
Let me make it clear that this column is by no means meant to speak favorably of any political party or candidate, mostly because I do not see any candidate that is worthy of such praise. I wish nothing more but to offer you a perspective you may have lost in the media fog that suffocates us all. As an increasingly significant presidential election approaches, I want to see the candidates being asked real questions, and giving real answers.
But in the end, that is entirely up to you.
Alex Short, 18, is a former Congressional Page and current student at Montgomery County Community College. He currently resides in Quakertown, PA. Feel free to contact him with any questions or comments at jas email@example.com, or via the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.