Interning with Mississippi Matters has meant integrating my writing into new adventures on the daily basis. From interviewing strangers for stories, to shadowing newspapers and magazines, to even having my own segment on a radio station one morning, these amazing adventures have been adding to who I am as a writer.
However, last Friday’s adventure has not only added to who I am as a writer, but it has added to who I am as a person (who, might I add, had not one ounce of interest in politics prior to Friday). To who we are as a nation and society based on who we choose to be as a people. A people who go to the polls. Or maybe I should say — a people who don’t go to the polls.
I spent Friday following U.S. 3rd Congressional District candidate Michael Guest and his awesome campaign crew around for interviews and luncheons and whatever else needed to be done. With the runoff election happening Tuesday, Friday’s interviews were about Guest trying to offer final comments and clarity to voters. For the sake of the future. The future that I carelessly had never put on the same page as politics. Truth is, I typically run from anything that even looks political. For that, I have been wrong. In that, I know I am not alone.
As I sat in on these interviews, voter turnout was a major topic. I think I should rephrase that to the lack of voter turnout.
People not showing up to the polls has been a growing problem for years. A problem that I have not personally felt affected by. However, while sitting amid interviews that revealed my absolute lack of knowledge of politics and government, I realized for the first time just how affected I am by who is voted into office. By who I have the opportunity to help elect into office.
The policies and platforms discussed intrigued me. Policies and ideas that will indeed shape the future of our nation, one way or the other.
As passionate as I find citizens to be on hot topics (especially behind the face of Facebook and Twitter), I see now how impactful a nation of passionate voters could be. Passionate voters who are passionate people who put thought into the people they put into office.
I’ve been wrong about politics in general. My sweet Grandmama (who was a politician herself) would love to hear that I have come to this realization. I had always rather just pray than spend my time poking around in “painful” politics. But I’ve realized that my prayers and politics go hand in hand. They’re a package deal that I (we) have the opportunity to seal.
No matter your background.
No matter your beliefs.
No matter the level of knowledge you currently have
You are part of politics, whether you want to be or not.
Your vote (or nonexistent vote) is a vital piece of your country’s potential future.
The policies, the ideas, the laws, and the people that promote them.
They are in my hands.
My peek into politics pushed me to see the potential at hand.
To be informed is the first step to being innovative.
To cast an educated vote is the essence of elevating beliefs into being.
What kind of world is it that you and I wish to see?
How is it that we want the world to be?
Then the polls are the place to be.
Be, then see.
Be the change.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sincere thanks goes out to Rob Pillow, Communications Director for the Michael Guest Campaign, for allowing Madeline to shadow with him for a day. To learn more about Mr. Guest, visit Michael Guest for Congress.