As I watched President Barack Obama’s State of the Union, I concluded that I will do more to hold our elected officials accountable.
I have decided to make a political resolution that extends beyond opinions articles. My former adviser Andrew Skerritt would say: “You, you, you can’t be both an activist and a journalist. You demonstrate your activism through your words.”
Yes, Skerritt stutters.
Well, Skerritt, no need to fret. I am not planning to march to the Capitol anytime soon or get arrested for doing so, primarily because I am looking forward to working in political communication. I must watch every step I take.
But I will write more letters, and I will make more phone calls to my elected officials expressing my concern. I will even attend city, county and state meetings that are open to the public.
Why am I saying all of this?
Obama said many things in his State of the Union address, but there were only two issues that truly moved me from working on my Spanish homework to actively listening and watching the computer screen in front of me.
Obama said: “In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job and form more stable families of their own. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.”
Amen was all I could muster. I understand and agree that all children should have a fair chance at reaching their full potential in terms of educational pursuits.
It isn’t fair that a child who comes from an economically disadvantaged background will be forced to repeat generational cycles of a lifestyle that is guided or determined by economic disparities.
I believe the educational gaps in America can, and need to, be fixed.
If you want to move me to tears, tell me that a beautiful little girl who loves animals won’t ever become a veterinarian because she is a victim of the educational system that encourages and promotes cycles of disparities in families because of their economic background.
Obama also spoke about gun control, a controversial topic that has garnered much debate. But it wasn’t until he mentioned Hadiya Pendleton’s name that I began to truly be filled with emotion.
I know what it is like to lose a loved one. But most importantly, I know what it is like to lose a loved one at the hands of a person holding a gun.
Obama went on to urge our elected officials that these people – Hadiya’s parents and the parents and family members of Newtown, Conn., and Rep. Gabby Giffords – deserve a vote.
The most beautiful and truly democratic part of his speech was when he said: “Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote.”
Profound was all I could think.
Democracy and the path that our country takes and remains on for the next decade or more falls on the notion of a single vote from the people we elected into office to represent us.
So I have made a resolution to be more engaged, informed, aware and active, in terms of politics. Not just because I want to be in political communication but also because my vote counts, and my voice will be heard.
I won’t allow the deaths of those who fought and died for my right to vote to be in vain. Nor will I take for granted that I live in a country where democracy reigns, where a single vote can change and has changed the course of history.