Political Participation Should be Required by Law

Political Participation Should be Required by Law

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I rang the doorbell of a two-story brick home in southwest Houston. "Hello sir, I am representing Republican, Dr. John Sanchez, who is running for Congress this November. Would you like some information concerning his platform?" The new Sanchez supporter enthusiastically volunteered to contribute to our campaign. Bouncing down his lawn, I felt I had contributed to our system of democracy in my small way.

Each week during the summer of my junior year, I worked with Sanchez's committed team of volunteers. We pursued interminable lists of mail-outs, telephone calls, and doorbells. Involvement allowed me to realize how much effort a campaign requires. My amazing experience triggered my own political opinions and ideas for the future - welfare, taxes, and health care.

Perhaps if legislation required campaign experience, young men and women would obtain knowledge and interest in our political system. Political participation is pivotal because these young men and women will be directing our political system in the future. However, lowering voting age is not the solution. Voting is a tremendous responsibility, requiring information about candidates/issues. Therefore, most eighteen-year-olds are capable of making wise, mature choices.


The dilemma is fomenting desire and convenience to vote. I suggest widespread voting online. The world is moving into the twenty-first century with amazing technological advances. Schools, libraries, and work places all have Internet access. Thus, voting availability would skyrocket.


In addition, voting would perhaps seem like less of a chore. Could voting be fun and rewarding? Internet graphics, pictures, and sounds could attract young voters in America. Advertising campaign and candidate information web sites could increase issue awareness. Let us get young people excited about voting!


Generally, the only government exposure for young men and women is a textbook high school course. Although education about our democracy is crucial, hand-on experience is necessary to instigate young voters.


Furthermore, the number of voters would surely increase if Election Day were a holiday. My mother phoned from work last November. "Honey, I'll be home as soon as I race to the polls. Dinner will be late tonight. The hospital was crazy today!" The door slammed when she finally came home; the polls were closed by the time she could get off work. My best friend, Amy, who works at Hallmark after school, also complained to me about voting hours. Thus, if Election Day were a national holiday, we could tear up our list of excuses.

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Next to apathy, inconveniences the major cause of non-voters.


My dad, also politically active, plucked my brother Jon and me from our homework last week for President Clinton's State of the Union Address. Dinner that did not include our successes and failures at school; rather, we dived into Clinton's aims for the future. Although my parents never concisely reveal whom they vote for, the compel Jon and me to choose our own views. The government is not the only palpable source to promote political participation; parents must also introduce our political system to their children.


Political socialization, the process by which one obtains his/her political opinions, exists through parents, community, and education. My economics class, filled to the brim with extremely bright Lamar High School students, hotly debated abortion last week. After the third round buzzer, my teacher Mr. Dorsey interjected, "We have a birthday girl today!" We promptly san "Happy Birthday," and she received her gift - a voter registration card. Voting is something to celebrate in our classroom. However, many teachers do not encourage political activity like Mr. Dorsey. Perhaps the government should send representatives into high schools; informative seminars that explain the importance of voting will increase the number of voters.


In addition, these representatives should explain the voting process to help new voters realize how simple and speedy voting is. My sophomore year, I received the HOBY Award and attended the Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Seminar in June at Rice University. Our activities included participating in a mock trial, hearing entrepreneur speakers, and debating controversial issues such as affirmative action. Meeting other students my age and interacting influential business and government figures from around the country provoked my desire for political action. We need more of this conference to bring the community together!


All three aspects - parents, education and community - must gel for young men and women to get politically active. Nevertheless, our government must reinforce these steps of involvement. Mandatory political campaign activities, online voting, work-free Election Day, and political awareness in school, and information sessions in communities need to be established by the government in order for young men and women to participate politically. Apathy and inconvenience need to be conquered. This arduous battle is important for the future of America. Our "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness" rests in the hands of young people - high school and college students like me.

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