Advocating for action

Students get directly involved in politics as election day approaches

Before this year, high school students most likely avoided political conversations with family at the dinner table that spark either boredom or controversy. But now, as the 2020 elections approach, many have become more outspoken even though they may not be old enough to vote. There are other ways, as they have found, to partake in politics.

Despite the mixed reception, Eastlick posts controversial political content to his Instagram account.

“I’d say it’s an important civic duty to pay attention to local, state and national races and get read up on the issues of the time to be an informed citizen,” junior Sebastian Fernandez said. “If you really believe that a person could make a serious difference in your community, it’s a good idea to get involved and help out.”

Fernandez started to get more active this year by interning for the Patricia Sigman campaign. Sigman is a Democrat running for Florida State Senate, District Nine, against Republican candidate Jason Brodeur. As an intern, Fernandez promotes public awareness through activities such as phone banking and sign waving.

“I really believe [Sigman] can make a difference… to make Florida a better state for everyone,” Fernandez said.

Senior Tai Markman also volunteers weekly with the Seminole County Democratic Party. Markman found the opportunity through her own research, and thinks it is a “great opportunity” to stay engaged.

A lot of students find that gaining enthusiasm for particular candidates helps to improve advocacy overall; sharing views with a prominent figure can motivate more people to show their support. At events such as political rallies, for example, people get a chance to listen directly to what the candidate has to say and form a better opinion on them.

President Donald Trump is known for hosting rallies nationwide. In 2016, senior CJ Ellis attended one of Trump’s rallies at the CFE Arena in UCF, mostly out of curiosity.

“Although [he] wasn’t my ideal candidate, the energy there was incredible,” Ellis said. “I could really tell people were enthusiastic about voting for Trump. It was almost like a party.”

The public reception for both presidential candidates, both positive and negative, has grown to be overwhelming in students’ eyes. Most can attest to the “Trump 2020” or “Biden 2020” masks, car magnets and lawn signs seen everywhere, and they seem to symbolize the prominence this election has taken within everyone’s lives.

Senior Blake Watts is conscious of the increasing tension between Trump and Biden supporters, and it has affected how much he is willing to express about his thoughts on the candidates — even going to discourage him from attending the Trump rally in Sanford on Oct. 12.

“I was swayed against going because of the risk of potentially dangerous situations… Trump rallies typically attract both positive and negative attention,” Watts said.

A dedicated advocate for human rights, Tulloch faces pushback head on and refuses to back down on her beliefs.

In spite of the hype surrounding the presidential race, Markman feels that it has overshadowed local elections. She believes the best way to remain politically engaged to stay as informed as possible on all levels.

“People underestimate the impact local candidates have on our everyday lives,” Markman said. “By being aware of what is going on, this motivates me to do whatever I can to help fight injustice and fight for equality.”

The rise in involvement in this year alone has gone to show how the minimum age for voting does not hinder students. Though not yet able to legally register for a party, Ellis considers himself an Independent. He is fascinated by politics and emphasizes the importance of all people educating themselves as much as they can.

“At some point, I will be old enough to vote… so I’d like to be informed now to prepare me for the future,” Ellis said. “Being able to express your voice in this country and contribute to a cause is a privilege that I don’t want to squander.”