“We are a polarized society with little ability to listen to those with differing ideas, backgrounds, and experiences. The turmoil created by this divide has stalled our progression into new ideas. … We need to learn how to listen.”
That was my response to a question on a college application regarding a major problem in our world today. I am Alex Schwartz, a senior at North Tahoe High School who who was born 5 months too late.
We are living in one of the most politically stressful times in history, divided down the middle like an even polynomial. Friendships have been terminated and families broken apart, yet the two sides are often a reflection of one another: “I’m right, you’re wrong”. How can the universe possibly allow two sides to be both right AND wrong? What ever happened to compromise?
Like most pre-teens, I did not pay much attention to current events or social studies in middle school. I thought it was all rhetoric and “gray area”. I wanted it to be black or white: right or wrong. I realize now that government is one of the few systems that everyone on the planet shares, and that the “gray area” is necessary for compromise. I believe that we here in America have the incredible opportunity to make a difference in our government. We can vote.
I am not 18 and therefore I cannot vote on November 6th. But this detail is not stopping me from getting involved. When my principal came into our leadership class and asked who would like to volunteer for the Meet The Candidates Forum, I eagerly agreed.
On Monday October 8th, I along with three of my peers helped facilitate the North Lake Tahoe Meet the Candidates Forum in my high school’s auditorium. The candidates are running for TCPUD, NTPUD, Truckee Tahoe Airport District, and North Tahoe Fire District in the November election. I was given the responsibility of asking the candidates questions offered by the public regarding local issues.
This was the first time I had witnessed a candidate’s campaign firsthand, and it was eye opening. We, the people of North Lake Tahoe, get to elect officials for real life important matters. How cool is that? I also came to the realization that anyone can run for public office. There is a civil engineer running for the Public Utility District, a fire chief running for the Fire District, and a pilot running for the Airport Board. Being elected for Senator or President seems far fetched, but being elected for a local office seems tangible. I walked away with a clearer vision of how our representatives actually become elected and I can envision myself one day running for office at a local level.
This Meet the Candidates Forum has inspired me to continue to volunteer and be involved in my local politics. I look forward to voting in the coming years and am thankful for this glimpse into American politics.