By Kathryn Fleisher, NFTY President, Shelby Shoup, NFTY SAVP, Deni Budman, NFTY CVP
As you may have seen in your American Government textbooks, democracy is a “government by the people, both directly or indirectly, with free and frequent elections.” Therefore, democracies only function when the citizens of democratic nations become educated and involved in their political processes. Political involvement is typically thought of as casting a ballot at the polls, but in actuality, voting is only the tip of the iceberg. While it is crucial that citizens aged 18 and older vote, it is also necessary that everyone be engaged in the political process. Civic engagement comes in many shapes and sizes, including becoming educated about issues, staying informed about candidates, engaging in conversation with voters, campaigning for candidates, and registering eligible voters.
As the next generation of Americans to inherit our democracy, it is vital to ensure that our voices are heard. We cannot wait until the future to demand change; we must work today to create a brighter tomorrow, both for ourselves and for generations to come. Although this may seem like a daunting task, each of us has the power to positively impact our communities and our nation. Impacting others primarily comes from voicing our own opinions. When we open dialogues regarding social issues, political candidates, and public policies, we reach an audience of fellow constituents. By doing so, we prompt others to continue these dialogues, thereby engaging an even greater audience. This diffusion of thought can lead to national conversations, policy changes, and the empowerment of the next generation of the citizenry to voice their choice.