Turning Tragedy to Political Might!
The recent call to action for teenagers to become politically active hasn’t been as loud as the alarm sounded last month when 17 high school students were tragically killed in Florida at the hands of an alleged teenage gunman. It often appears that our sensitivity when it comes to how we deal with mass shootings the United States has diminished. While politicians, gun rights advocates, owners, gun safety advocates and others go back and forth as to what should be done, people continue to die. We’ve looked for leadership from the U.S. President, Congressional and community leaders but the killings continue. We obviously don’t have a crystal ball, however when we knowingly vote for individuals who don’t reflect a biblical views on life, family, marriage or faith and support them anyway, we have to deal with the consequences. The negative impact on our schools, families and society will not be changed in the short term, despite all the programs, laws, money, etc thrown its way. Bullets continue to fly in schools, churches, theaters, clubs and other venues while we tepidly try to figure out what to do. We sometimes look to other countries and highlight the things they aren’t doing “right” politically, culturally or economically instead of doing some self-assessment ourselves.
The recent shooting incident in the Florida high school gathered some political steam because the surviving victims are speaking up for themselves. Outrage and the call to do something however is a pattern we’ve seen in many of the previous mass shootings. The lack of organization politically, spiritually and socially led to little to nothing being done in regards to any significant gun safety legislation. A report written by Robert Preidt stated that Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries. He went on to point out that our gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher than that of 22 high-income nations. Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the United States' gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher. And, even though the United States' suicide rate is similar to other countries, the nation's gun-related suicide rate is eight times higher than other high-income countries, researchers said.
This particular group of victims realize that within months, most if not all of them will have the right to vote for who will represent their views. They’ve been active in the social media, print as well as television and radio. Because they are technically savvy, they’ve also started a website aptly named march for our lives. They are organizing by requesting donations, providing social media updates and more importantly getting others to register to vote. During interviews this group of teens have expressed the frustration most of us have had for decades. If you’re a member of a particular political party, generally speaking, over 90% of your voting is in lockstep with your party position. They are realizing that if nothing was done when elementary school kids were gunned down, they have to do something different to move cause change.
Marching on Washington, protesting within the local political chambers, voicing your disapproval during television interviews and on social media all have some impact. However, politicians are usually only moved briefly during the time these events happen. They often retreat back to the position their political party and/or donors expect them to. So how can teens take over the political system in the U.S.? They’re on the right track by being vocal, being strategic and being purposeful. Targeting their local leaders that don’t have the political courage to vote their conscience instead of the party line is the first step. Identifying a candidate that doesn’t feel compelled to vote the same way his party votes every single time will be difficult but that is the task.
Getting one truly independent candidate voted into congress (senate or house) could be the start of true change. Rooting out all the long-time political members who vote the same way just about every time will take years. But let’s dream for a minute. If this wave of change takes place in one or two congressional districts it could be replicated nationally. The impact could be immediate despite not having a majority. Simply having 2-4 Senators and a handful of Congressmen/women who have the courage to cast their vote either way (politically) would give a large group of people tremendous leverage when it comes to passing legislation that affect the country at large.
Political action and special interest groups aren’t going away anytime soon. Teens, like many of us realize that placing all of our hope in politicians and our political system is a mistake. Recent events have thrust these courageous young people into demanding drastic change from our political leaders. At the time of this post, the Florida legislature passed a bill which if passed would possibly arm teachers, increase the legal age to purchase firearms and more. The collision course of 2nd amendment advocates vs those for common sense gun safety could leave us in a sense of paralysis in the short term. I am encouraged by the resilience of this particular group of young people and encourage all those reading this post to take inventory in terms of what actions they can take to improve the circumstances in their own neighborhoods. You do this by holding your congressional leaders high standards, demand they justify their vote (regardless of political party affiliation) instead of always voting along party lines, host town hall meetings regularly and ultimately send them packing if they don’t measure up. We shouldn’t expect change to happen at the top when we don’t expect much of ourselves, the politicians we vote in are often a reflection of our own views. We now accept just about any kind of language on our airways, any kind of behavior in our homes and schools, businesses, and on athletic fields.
Despite all the things we have going on in our country, the teens from Florida and throughout our nation give me hope for positive change. Their activism led to a change in one area and hopefully will lead to change in many more. They recognize the power of their vote and started the movement which I trust will lead to increased accountability across our nation.
Register & Vote!