Can't Vote but I Still Count||
After visiting a summer festival, student Katie Bickert realized that there
was more to Dennis Kucinich than being a vegan and that there really was a role
for youth in politics.
It all started last summer at this little thing the local vegans like to call
"the fair share fair," an annual fest of vegan food and music. Looking
around at all the booths I noticed a small one. It had a sign that read "Vegan
in the White House 2004!" This of course would spark any vegan's interest;
it did mine.
picked up some information and learned that this vegan's name is Dennis Kucinich.
Better than the fact that he's vegan is his stances on issues and his impressive
track record. After watching him shine in debates I decided this is my guy.
joined his campaign -- doing little things like making phone calls or writing
e-mails to the press asking for more coverage of our candidate. The people should
pick the candidate, not the media.
the candidates to my high school|
Once school started I was especially excited to hear that my school, Concord
High, was starting a club to bring presidential candidates to visit our school.
was the perfect opportunity to get Congressman Kucinich to come speak to the local
youth. I headed to the first meeting of this committee where each member picked
a candidate to chase after. Of course I picked Dennis Kucinich.
the easy part.
First we sent all the candidates "kudos cards"
to tell them how wonderful we thought they were. It didn't work so we decided
to try petitions -- each member, petition in hand, took to the halls. I personally
managed to collect over 700 signatures, which I think proves that today's youth
are interested in politics. Those petitions worked like a charm. Of course, I
like to think my initial construction paper cards helped too.
By next week
all of the nine major democratic candidates except Rev. Al Sharpton will have
spoken at our school-- something unique to any school in the United States.
The day Kucinich spoke was one of the more exciting days I have had. I was
shaking in my boots standing in front of 500 peers and various media including
the New York Times, knowing I'd be introducing Kucinich. However when I saw the
Congressman standing at the top of the room I dropped my speech and just winged
it. I was inspired. And when Kucinich spoke the kids burst out with applause in
the middle of his speech, something we hadn't seen with any other candidates.
After that I continued to work for the Kucinich campaign. On one occasion,
National Homeless Memorial Day, Kucinich happened to be out of state and couldn't
attend the vigil. I got a call from the Kucinich office asking me to speak on
his behalf at this event. I gladly accepted. The Kucinich campaign was the only
one that showed up that day, which just further proved to me and everyone else
there that he is the candidate who truly cares about the people of this country.
I recently attended an event where Kucinich was speaking and he took me
under his arm and introduced me to the crowd as one of his volunteers. He also
asked me questions about what I have been doing with the campaign recently.
balancing act |
With the primary drawing near, canvassing is at an all time high. We're all
busy making phone calls and holding events.
My life is hectic between volunteering
for a campaign, doing karate and studying for mid-terms. But when you believe
in a candidate as much as I do, regardless of age, it is important to do your
absolute best to get his message to as many people as possible. That is why I
am a youth involved in politics.
Even though we can't vote, we know we can
still change things in the government and that's exactly what we're doing. Students
take information and opinions home to voting parents. The media coverage is amazing
and the students are becoming educated on current issues.
It is a positive
experience for everyone involved.
Katie Bickert is a 17-year-old student at Concord High School in New Hampshire
by Steve Garneass-Homes