Our activities as Wake the Voters have really made this year and this election important for me. Since January, we’ve been traveling, studying, and working on politics in many forms and fashions. We started out the year traveling to the Iowa caucus and other primaries to do campaign work and watch returns in local communities that had just voted. As the summer approached, we transitioned to internships and summer jobs with political focuses. For our cohort, this meant everything from learning more about the importance of local politics to making sure women in Tennessee would be on the ballot and hopefully in office.
As we have experienced the election this semester, all of the previous activities come to mind, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of this cohort. The experiences have been amazing, but the knowledge is what I value the most. Wake the Vote has been a phenomenon within a phenomenon, the election. The two could not have occurred at a more perfect time. Wake the Vote gave me the tools to thoroughly understand politics in the states, and to be 100% sure that Donald Trump is a tragic representation of the flaws of our political system, and how far it is from the Founders’ intentions. Now, there’s a million and one ways that the Founders were flawed and problematic, both personally and in politics. But since we continue to rule the United States with the Constitution made by our Founders, it is necessary to consider their original intent when it came to framing the United States. I, personally, think the Founders did not intend for someone like Trump to rise to his current political status, but purposefully made space for him to be able to. The Founders probably wanted to have great leaders who could represent the people, but regularly emphasized ideal citizens (old, white, cis men who owned slaves) who could rule with rationale and power. Trump has the power, though some might question his rationale and fit for the presidency of the United States. Wake the Vote has made it possible for me to analyze the election in additional ways than I could before, and through additional avenues.
This semester, Wake the Vote is committing some more time to activities on campus, creating and endorsing efforts to garner interest and explore various aspects of politics. Because of this, we have been able to explore this phenomenon of an election through policing, gun violence, the Syrian crisis, and with local candidates like Dede Adams and Deborah Ross. Wake the Vote gave me interest in exploring these hot topics, and interest in pursuing politics as a minor, to the extent of taking it abroad in a politics course taught by Katy Harriger. I spent five weeks learning about the foundations of the United States political system and Constitution, gathering information I could then bring back to inform my lessons with Wake the Vote. The ability and willingness to delve deep into the United States political system, to be engaged for a whole calendar year in my first general election can be attributed to Wake the Vote. The program’ s power to mobilize youth and truly wake the vote is real and salient and something I am grateful to have participated in.