Art by Catherine Ferguson
Whether you can vote this year or not, please educate yourself first.
On Sept. 29, the day of 2020’s first presidential debate, the St. Mary’s fifth grade class gave the seniors handwritten letters on the importance of voting. One letter, written by Victoria Lange (5), reads, “Dear Ria Patel , I just learned how hard women fought for the right to vote. If you are 18, please vote on Nov. 3 and make your voice heard! If you are not 18, please register to vote as soon as you can. 5th Graders are counting on you!”
Dr. Dalton Lyon, head of the St. Mary’s history department, said, “I think we do a pretty good job at this school: giving you all opportunities to be engaged with the world, to talk about our history, and talk about presidential history… but also having a sense of how these elected officials connect to the issues that are important to you.”
As for those who cannot vote in the St. Mary’s community, your attention should be on educating yourselves just as much as that of our new voters. The outcome affects everyone, not just those over 18. Murphy Jamieson (11) said, “The outcome of this election affects me too – simple things like the tax placed on a tank of gas.”
Topics discussed in the first presidential debate included but were not limited to: the Supreme Court, the economy, race and violence in our cities, COVID-19, and the integrity of this election. Whether it’s your parent’s job security, your treatment as a member of a marginalized group, or even, as Jamieson stated, the smallest issues like gasoline taxes, this election affects you.
Dr. Lyon explained that this year the presidential debates are crucial because of the lack of an entertainment catalyst provided by a live audience. These debates will expose both former vice president Biden’s and President Trump’s personalities, poise, and their instantaneous reactions to direct personal attacks.
In such a politically polarized world, it's tempting to agree with whatever information you are exposed to more; however, I urge you to take the time to educate yourself and form your own opinion. These next two presidential debates, along with a vice presidential debate on Oct. 7, are the times to watch and listen carefully. Stay true to the values and policies that are important to you.
Dr. Lyon said, “The health of any republic, ours especially, depends upon an informed citizenry… When we have fallen short or succeeded, it depended not just on the virtuosity of our leaders, but the degree to which citizens held our leaders into account through voting.”
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