My parents took me to attend both of President Obama’s inaugurations, but I can’t say I personally knew why I or anybody else supported him over other candidates. What 5th grader does? But standing near the Washington Monument in January of 2009, I did see the hope in people’s eyes as we listened to the newly sworn in president on a big screen. I could feel the inspiration gleaming out of over a million shivering bodies. There was something here that I was missing. This was history and I mostly just remember trying to keep my toes warm or wondering when we could eat.
I grew up like most, playing sports and hanging out with friends, more excited about the upcoming basketball tournament in gym class or a new episode of Game of Thrones than the next piece of legislation the Senate would vote on. But something changed in 11th grade government class. Every class we would discuss current events and the political landscape. The 2014 midterms were occurring. I began to realize the magnitude of what all of this meant. Many of these policies can literally make or break one’s life. A bill that takes ten minutes to read can have an impact on ten million people. This was much bigger than sports and entertainment. This was our future. The future is too important to wait your turn.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a huge Orioles fan, Redskins fan, and an enthusiastic supporter of all things UMBC. But it is the fringe of my interest. They grab my attention but can’t fully sustain my concentration, because they really just serve as a complement to what really matters. There’s always going to be another great show to watch and some team is always going to win the Super Bowl, but there’s a family out there who might not be able to pay rent next month. There’s a college graduate who doesn’t feel ready to step into the real world. There’s a business owner afraid he or she might not make ends meet. There’s a teacher left wondering whether the salary he or she was promised will be upheld. This is real life. These are persons’ well-beings in the balance. Politics matter. Don’t let anyone tell you they don’t.
In my American Studies class the first semester of freshman year at UMBC, I was asked to describe my dream in the final paper. I had no idea. I looked at my life retrospectively and asked myself what did I always truly want. I’ve always wanted to make a difference while I was still here on Earth. I wanted to do something that would be remembered after I’m gone. I have been given a fair shot in life to make my dream come true. My parents have provided me with enough to feed me, care for me, and send me to college. When I graduate from UMBC, I will have as much of a chance to succeed as the next young adult. The American Dream is mine for the taking. Others are not as lucky as me and haven’t had the same opportunity as I have. The lottery of birth is unfair. It’s our job to make sure equal opportunity is provided to every child regardless of how much their parents can provide to them. Denying a child that is fundamentally wrong and bad for society. We have no idea where the next genius will come from. We all have a part to play to make sure this happens. I want my part to be improving the lives of people around me and give as many children the same opportunity as I had through public policy. It may not seem like it, but no one possess the greater potential to do more good for more people like politicians, despite their partisan gridlock and power grabs.
This is why I led the Young Democrats in high school. This is why I’m a member of College Democrats at UMBC. This is why I canvassed in Pennsylania in 2016. This is why I’m running for Calvert County Commissioner. This is my dream. I want to give all children the same chance as I had as a child: the chance to develop their own dream.