Whether it be harsh political ads running before Youtube videos, promotional signs lining the streets and front yards of Lee’s Summit, or social media posts attempting to convince the public why their candidate is best, election season campaigning seems nonstop. Rather than merely consuming all the political talk, some Titans decided to dive directly into this year’s campaign scene.
“I wanted to do something more than just rant on twitter about policies, and to actually make an impact,” said senior Adin Alem, who volunteered this past summer as an intern on Claire McCaskill’s team for the 2018 Senate race.
For senior Eli Boulding, the political roots run deep. Tagging along with his mom as a child, Boulding canvassed door-to-door for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. “Politics and stuff is something is something that’s been important to my family, like, forever,” Boulding said.
Ten years after his very first campaign experiences, Boulding said he desired to re-enter the political scene and thus also joined the McCaskill team this school year. Given flyers and a checklist of different names and addresses, Boulding hit the streets in pursuit of talking with complete strangers and trying to convince potential voters to support McCaskill.
First starting off, Boulding said things were “horrible” as immense nerves overcame him with each walk to a stranger’s porch. “It’s definitely rough at first. I know, this is not for everyone,” said Boulding, “But for some reason, something is driving me to go out there and knock on random people’s doors.”
After accompanying Boulding once on a canvassing outing, senior Ben DeJonge said he gained a more comprehensive perspective on the reality of campaigning.
“I went into the process with the mindset that I would be able to make a drastic difference. That isn’t the reality of canvassing,” DeJonge said. “That’s the general idea behind politics though. Individually you can only do so much. Most things won’t be influenced solely by one person’s actions.”
“That being said, it is a dangerous mindset to believe that each individual doesn’t matter. It is important to remember that everybody has a civic responsibility to keep our government accountable,” DeJonge said.
Despite being often met with unanswered doorbells and crabby homeowners, Boulding said canvassing led to some priceless interactions.
“Every once in awhile you’ll come across somebody who actually like they’ll open the door and take the time out of their day to have a conversation with you,” Boulding said. “At the end of the day, I just really enjoy getting to have a conversation about important topics with the people who are going to be out there voting.”
Alem also said the conservations stemming from her canvassing have been the highlight of her interning experience. Alem said, “Getting someone who was passionate about politics to talk to you, if they weren’t yelling at you about different policies, was really fun and made me really passionate about the job.”
While Boulding, DeJonge, and Alem express great concern over the democratic processes, large parts of America aren’t entirely on board. For one reason or another, about 60% of eligible voters in recent years turned up to the polls for presidential elections and only 40% voted in the midterms according to fairvote.org. Aware of these seemingly concerning statistics, Boulding said his motivations for interning partially stem from a concern to increase civic engagement.
“Even more important than pushing the blue vote is just pushing the vote in general. Getting people out there to vote, like people who just don’t care or they don’t know if they don’t care, or the other way around,” Boulding said “Just getting people at least involved….that’s a step closer to them getting informed.”
With campaigns welcoming particularly young adults into the political process, Alem said certain candidates will reap benefits from encouraging involvement from the younger crowd.
“We’re kind of the driving force of politics right now. The amount of young adults and teenagers taking political stances, from organizing protests, voter registration drives, etc is astounding. We’re the future leaders of this world so political campaigns need to start realizing that,” Alem said.
“The world of politics has always been surrounded by the younger generations influence. If teens didn’t get involved in politics, history would no be what it is,” said Alem. “Politics was made for young people to get involved.”