Archive for Monday, March 3, 2008

High-schoolers are encouraged to make political voices heard

Boyda, Ballard and Francisco among leaders who speak at LHS event

Lawrence High School sophomores, from left, Ida Greenwell, Lucy Daldorph and Kimberly Oyler and senior Whitney Perkins visit a booth during the LHS Young Democrats' Promote the Vote event Sunday at the school. The rally encouraged high school students to become more involved in politics and voting.

Lawrence High School sophomores, from left, Ida Greenwell, Lucy Daldorph and Kimberly Oyler and senior Whitney Perkins visit a booth during the LHS Young Democrats' Promote the Vote event Sunday at the school. The rally encouraged high school students to become more involved in politics and voting.

March 3, 2008

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Local politicians look to 'promote the vote'

Local politicians look to promote the vote - and to get Lawrence teens to register and learn about the election process. Enlarge video

Lee Ann Duver, center, of the League of Women Voters, helps register high school students to vote Sunday, March 2, 2008 during the Lawrence High School Young Democrat's Promote the Vote at LHS.

Lee Ann Duver, center, of the League of Women Voters, helps register high school students to vote Sunday, March 2, 2008 during the Lawrence High School Young Democrat's Promote the Vote at LHS.

Kansas Senator Marci Francisco addresses high school students Sunday, March 2, 2008 during the Lawrence High School Young Democrat's Promote the Vote at LHS. Francisco spoke about how she became involved in politics and why participating is important.

Kansas Senator Marci Francisco addresses high school students Sunday, March 2, 2008 during the Lawrence High School Young Democrat's Promote the Vote at LHS. Francisco spoke about how she became involved in politics and why participating is important.

Saturday's Promote the Vote rally at Lawrence High School netted more than two dozen new voters, while speakers from the halls of politics, education and the environment told LHS and Free State High School students about the importance of political involvement.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda praised the students for their involvement, then blasted President Bush for continuing to use warrantless wiretaps as a means of surveillance.

State Rep. Barbara Ballard was cited by several students as being an effective and inspirational speaker. She told the group that diverging viewpoints were important, and that participation in politics can be gratifying.

"I'd like to encourage all of you to give back. Because when you give back, you get back," she said.

State Rep. Paul Davis urged students to get involved in campaigns and issues that are important to them, especially on the state and local level. He said that even though Kansas voters have traditionally supported Republicans, having a more bipartisan state Legislature could benefit the state.

"I'd like to see this become a true two-party state," he said. "I say that as someone who is concerned with good government. When you have one party that consistently wins elections : you don't get the best government."

The event was organized by the LHS Young Democrats, and included speeches by Ballard, Davis, state Sen. Marci Francisco, Boyda, local environmentalist Simran Sethi, and State Board of Education members Bill Wagnon and Janet Waugh.

Inspiring messages

LHS junior Casey Maxon, president of the school's Young Republicans, said he wished more Republicans were able to participate.

"I do wish we had a little more support," he said, adding that overall he was impressed with the message of involvement given by the speakers.

Despite the lack of Republican speakers, Maxon said, "We're just as in support of getting people to vote" as Democrats.

LHS Young Democrats President Stephanie Jian, who organized the event, said she was inspired by the speakers. She said Sethi's message that "we are all activists" stuck out in particular.

"The resounding message was that everyone's special. Even if it's just one vote, even if it's just one thing in your daily life, it will add up," Jian said.

She said the event helped register more than twice as many voters as last year's inaugural Promote the Vote rally.

"I hope that a lot of people can say they are proud that they registered to vote," she said.

Free State sophomore Cypress Frankenfeld won't be 18 by November, but he came to the rally to educate himself about the issues, particularly the environment and the war on terror.

"I'm just trying to talk to other people to learn more for when I can vote," he said. "I'm just sad I can't vote."

Boyda told the group of several dozen students that she appreciated their interest in politics.

"We're leaving you guys a mess," she said.

She decried the divisive nature of politics, saying the Republicans have tried to align themselves with Christian values, while painting Democrats as "ungodly and unpatriotic."

"That kind of engagement turns the questions off. 'If someone's patriotic and godly, what more do I need to know?' " she said. "Who do you think wins?"

Harsh words for Bush

One student asked Boyda about the debate surrounding warrantless wiretapping. Boyda unequivocally voiced her dismay with Congress's lack of action to curb warrantless wiretapping.

"The foundation of our democracy : is at stake in the House of Representatives," she said. She said Bush's attempts to stifle inquiries into wiretapping and the role of telecom companies was "a massive cover-up : because he doesn't want you to know that the Constitution has been shredded and he doesn't want you to know how long" wiretapping has been happening.

She also told the students how she became involved in politics. She recalled the struggles of her first congressional campaign, which she lost by 15 percentage points. But, she said, she was determined to campaign again.

"It's really about this thing called democracy, and having a conversation about the issues," she said.

Comments

Robert bickers 7 years, 2 months ago

"She decried the divisive nature of politics"

"because he doesn't want you to know that the Constitution has been shredded "

Pots and kettles?

I'm all in favor of helping teens become aware of modern politics (note: not making them aware), but let's do it with a little less bias. Give them the facts and help them develop the mental tools to do a little critical thinking on their own. Spoon-feeding them dogma does nothing to help their thinking ability.

An uninformed opinion based only on what you are told, not what you took the time to ponder, is a wrong opinion.

Ragingbear 7 years, 2 months ago

Typically, school forums such as this one are used to preach a teacher's or the principle's individual views to the students. If a student disagrees, they are then usually punished in some fashion, usually by overreacting to a very small rule infraction. Chewing gum in class? That's a 30 day suspension.

geniusmannumber1 7 years, 2 months ago

Ragingbear, while everyone feels sorry that you had to attend school in a Red Dawn-style reeducation camp, the rest of us in the real world would doubt the veracity of your statement.

hopper 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm in my last year of high school and i wish we had something like this at our school. I would like to learn more about what going on and things i need to do.

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