Commentary

Get Political

This summer I witnessed one of the hottest political Augusts in recent American history. I attended a health care “Town Hall meeting” for my hometown’s congressional district. Not knowing quite what I was getting myself into, I brought a friend along for protection. During the summer, these health care “discussions” had become infamous for shouting and, in some cases, violence. One particular case in California involved a pro-reform protestor biting off another man’s finger during a rally. Certainly my own experience was not this extreme, but that’s not to say it was without excitement. At least two enraged citizens had to be escorted out because they would not let go of the microphone. The prospect of watching an insane mob take over my representative on stage only half motivated me to attend. Truthfully, I hated my experience with democracy that night. The uninformed arguments that took over the focus of the conversation made me never want to go out in public again. At one point, my congressman, Jim Himes, had to explain to the crowd that Medicare and Medicaid indeed were government-run health insurance programs. For one of the wealthiest areas in the country with some of the best public schools in the country, southwestern Connecticut was letting me down. At the end of the meeting, I stormed out of the auditorium with sweat running down my back, got into my car and sat silently the whole way home. As I began to reach an emotional equilibrium, I started to realize that it wasn’t the red-faced, anti-government protestors that I was angry with. I was angry with this school, my friends and myself. I was angry that the only other kid I saw of comparable education was an extreme libertarian, who, at one point, stood up and said, “Mister Congressman, I’m aware that this new bill will raise taxes. Now, tell me if I’m wrong but no one here wants their taxes raised!” For the short remainder of my summer, one question never left my mind: “Where is my generation?” Most of us, I think, are the offspring of baby-boomers. Our parents fought for civil rights, invented classic rock, peacefully took to the streets against an unjust war and made “love” a popular word. As Andover students, we are always labeled as “leaders.” Whether we admit it or not, every kid at PA has a certain feeling of individuality and superiority. But do we really deserve such a feeling? What do we do that merits this denomination? Well, we take really hard classes, learn calculus before other high schools, win A/E and practice “non sibi.” Certainly it helps us get into college. But does this make us the future leaders of our country? Over my two and a half years here, I’ve noticed that politics and political discussion rarely, if ever, come up. In fact, political arguments have something of a stigma. Many kids try to avoid them at all costs. Political affiliations aside, I pose this question to every Andover student: How are we going to lead the country if we ignore our responsibilities now? I attended a social-entrepreneurship conference this Sunday. At the beginning of the event, Mrs. Chase came up to say a few words. In her statement, she noted how, although we are a college “preparatory” school, we often end up preparing and never actually doing anything. Well, PA, this is our time to lead and to do. Our generation will never get a better chance to get involved than now, no matter what affiliation. We go to one of the best high schools in the country; we have no excuse for being uninformed. Read the news; call your congressman; start an argument with your teacher or classmate; do something. We can’t let our generation grow up and resort to arguments like, “Obamacare will kill my grandma” or “Death panels will decide whether or not you get life-saving treatment.” Let’s use the resources we have here and take our knowledge to the world, but don’t wait until after college, don’t wait until college, don’t wait at all. Our time to lead and to do is now. Andover, if we really are leaders, let’s start to act like them. Adam Levine is a three-year Upper and Photography Director from Westport, CT. alevine2@andover.edu