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Making Politics Real Posted:11.04.02
Lisa, an Arizona 12th grader, writes about the lessons learned while creating a controversial voters guide for her community.
As a seventeen year-old high school
student, I never considered myself influential, influential in politics,
anyway. However, when I came to government class and learned that the
county attorney was trying to stop our 2002 Sunnyslope Voters Guide from
being published because it influenced political opinion, I felt like I
was more than a 17-year-old high school student. Now I was fighting for
something. I was expressing my freedom of speech with a twenty page guide
of propositions and candidates.
This Voters Guide was more than a class assignment. It was more than a school paper. This guide would be read by thousands of people, some who say they won't vote before reading the Sunnyslope voter's guide.
The power of words
Words have power. As a writer, I have always known this, but putting out the guide proved it. The way we depicted candidates and the sides we took on propositions would all affect the way our community voted.
But students cannot spend nights and hours outside the classroom researching and writing out outlooks on propositions without noticing corruption down the line. We could not shade our eyes from the effects of caustic independent campaigns or sugar-coated proposition ads without wondering what the purpose was in the first place. We learned to look for the little words after the commercial to see who really sponsored that campaign.
I, for instance, researched Proposition 203. It seemed like a nice concept, medical marijuana for the terminally ill. But when one looks at how easily the average Joe Shmoe can get his hands on a marijuana plant because he has pangs of nausea, one might reconsider this proposition -- especially when he/she sees that its founder is a millionaire who gives to random causes like pet cloning because he'd like to see Lassie doubled. The Voters Guide showed me how to view politics for what it is, minus the shiny campaign posters and promises of security.
The Voters Guide showed me political efficacy at it height. When students can say what a candidate is doing wrong, challenge authority, and do it all in the name of free speech, we know something is right. Students do have a say, and producing the 2002 Sunnyslope Voters Guide showed me just that.
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