I think voting is important. I learned this when running for student council president back in high school. I had never 'run a campaign' before, so I made a sweet iron-on T-shirt (which I still have) that I wore everyday for two weeks leading up to the election.
At my high school, candidates got to give speeches, and since I'm pretty decent in that arena, I won the election and spent my senior year planning homecoming, helping the student council raise funds and everything else that a student body president does in high school.
I thought about all this yesterday when I spoke at Ravenwood High School, located just south of Nashville. I spoke to the senior class about community service in advance of their first-ever Senior Service Day, happening in two weeks. That day, the entire senior class (about 400 strong) will volunteer at 23 different nonprofits in middle Tennessee. It was pretty inspiring to speak with these students (Gen Yers) who are coming of age when schools are coordinating (and requiring) service.
But what made me think about my high school politcal days was the fact that the service day coincided with homecoming week at Ravenwood. And while the week would be full of community service, spirit contests and pep rallies, it would also be time for one thing: voting for Homecoming King and Queen.
It's interesting that in high school, you vote for a lot. You vote for class representatives, class leadership, student council leaders, homecoming queen, prom queen, senior gifts - the list could go on depending upon the school. In America, the high school is a great model of high efficiency democracy (minus the quasi-totalitarian principals).
I remember another political moment in high school - when I registered to vote. In the spring of my senior year, there was a voter registration booth in the main hallway. I had turned 18 a few months earlier, and because it was easy, I signed up and got my voter registration card. I could officially vote. It was exciting.
Even though I didn't exercise the right until that August when I got to vote for the mayor of Nashville, the fact that I could vote was pretty awesome. It carried a certain responsibility with it. There was a mandate of sorts that required me to be informed, engaged and even dedicated to what was happening around me.
Since then, I've voted for mayor, governor, president, state reps, sentators - essentially every office but homecoming king.
I don't know how many 18-years-olds I spoke to yesterday were registered to vote. Maybe I should have asked, especially since the deadline to register is Saturday (in Tennessee).
So, with that in mind, and in the spirit of democracy in high schools and hamlets everywhere, I remind folks of the following:
- You gotta vote. You just gotta. I don't care who you vote for, or what shapes your opinion. But, I will not listen to you complain or moan about the outcome if you don't take the five minutes required to register and then to vote come election day.
- Registration deadlines are looming. Click here to see when your state's deadline is, and then go register by clicking here.
- Watch this video (thanks, Newscoma). Sure, it's celebrity-heavy, but Jonah Hill and Sarah Silverman are hilarious as ever. All in all, the point is clear - if you care about something (the economy, abortion, welfare, the environment), then you should vote.
Yes, I wish voting could be easier and more innovative, but at least registering is.