Thursday, April 22, 2010

Apathy Is Atrophy: A Political Calling (Part Two)

(Continued from Apathy Is Atrophy: A Political Calling, Part One)

I hope you enjoyed the story about the longest election in American history. I know it really motivates me. I'm happy to see that the Democrat was able to win with a strong get-out-the-vote effort.

As I follow my fellow editor, Bill, into the 100-club on Lefty's Last Cry, I think back about how I found my own political calling. You see, I was raised in a non-partisan household. My parents have voted across party lines and never expressed any strong party identification. In many ways, discovering my own political identity was a curious process.

As a teenager, I was compelled into action not by partisan energies but by an intense urge for participation and civic duty. It wasn't a candidate or a movement that lit my fire. It was a single, local issue about raising taxes towards much-needed school upgrades for Oak Harbor High School.

For 10 years, the campaign had struggled to convince a largely transient and retired population to accept even minor tax increases for a new high school and new stadium. Unlike many of my classmates at Notre Dame, my high school wasn't something to be particularly proud of. With dilapidated facilities and a stadium located 2 miles away that wasn't considered satisfactory for playoff-level competition (forcing us to have home games at neutral sites), the nickname "Broke Harbor" made perfect sense. In 2007, we were even listed among 22 Washington State high school "dropout factories."
No one wants to hear that.

Teachers, students, and passionate parents campaigned for months, rallying the support of politicians and local businesses. In 2005, the levy passed by a slim margin. In the time since I left Oak Harbor, the residents have been blessed with a new stadium (Home of the 2006 Washington State 4A Football Champions. See right) and a new high school. Politically, the issue brought to my attention the injustices of the process by which we fund education in this country. As you can probably guess, it didn't take me long to realize which party I would find a home in.

Realizing that many of you are very politically active, I feel no need to preach to the choir. In fact, the reason I know many you is because we share this similar calling. In telling you my story, I only hope to inspire you to tell yours to the people you care about most. Just maybe, they will wake one day with that same question burning in their minds:

"What better place than here? What better time than now?"

Whether you are working on Brad Ellsworth's Senate campaign or fighting to have a ballot initiative pass in your small town, always remember why you were called into political life in the first place. And don't forget–apathy is atrophy. Exercise your right to vote!

It has been a pleasure working with each and every one of you in the College Democrats and here at Lefty's Last Cry. I hope that we cross paths again, when our passions find a common cause.

For Our Country,
Henry Vasquez


Anonymous said...

Beautiful story, Henry!

Aly said...

Congrats on 100 posts, Henry! It's especially cool that what got you going was a local issue - I know for myself and a lot of other people, it started bigger and I only later noticed the local issues.

pam said...

You are so eloquent and I loved the story; it really was a time for you, like the late sixties and early seventies were for me. Awareness and fairness...key.

Bill said...

For as well as I know you, I'm really surprised that I've never heard this story before. It's cool that you have a concrete event that you can point to as a turning point that made you the huge lib that you are.

Colleen Lowry said...

your stadium is beautiful.

Thomas Wachtel said...

"All hell can't stop us now."