Will You Have A Say?


Mica Chesshir, Writer and Editor

   I looked around the round wooden table at my district, some of us meeting only six months before. We gave each other reassuring smiles, and I could see the encouragement in the girl’s eyes sitting across from me as I turned my microphone on and began to speak to Senator John Boozman, sitting a few seats down with his hands crossed on his paper, pen in hand.

   Patrick Cook, Madison Stanley, and I first heard about the John Boozman Youth Cabinet at the end of Sophomore year when we, along with other students, were picked to write an essay to apply. That summer, I was thrilled to receive a letter in the mail that told me what to expect as a member of John Boozman’s youth cabinet.

   As October got closer, which was when the first meeting would be, Patrick, Madison, and I were sent three public issues to research. At the first meeting, my district, district number 4, and I would decided which out of the three to write a bill for. The topics to choose from were driverless cars, rural broadband, and internet sales tax.

   I began to research, watch the news, and ask others what they knew and thought about these three topics, and by the time the first meeting came around, I had a solid grasp of the topics.

   At first glance, I didn’t even want to attempt to figure out the last two because I knew nothing about them or how they affected the American people. However, this made me think of how uninformed I was of big decisions that were being made that were affecting me and my family. I realized how important it was for people my age to be knowledgeable on current issues because that way we will be able to make an independent decision when it comes time to vote. Yes, I thought I was all up to date with politics and major controversies, and possibly so, however, it’s not just the presidential elections, notorious scandals, wars, social injustice, and foreign threats that we see on Fox or CNN that affect us. Much closer to home, smaller but equally important topics determine how our communities are run, business is carried out, and how well our quality of life is. These decisions are made regardless, but it is our generation’s choice whether not to have a say in the outcome.

   After our first meeting, my district chose to propose a bill pertaining to internet sales tax and how this would first, affect small businesses in our communities, and second, bring needed funding to states. My district met three times before discussing our bill with the Senator where he considered our ideas.

   The whole experience was a great opportunity to make new connections and learn at the same time. It was fun to work with students in different towns across the state, each passionate about what is being done in Washington to help us back at home here in the great state of Arkansas.

   When asked about his experience on the youth cabinet, Patrick said that it helped him “understand more about political science”. Also, Patrick is now thinking of minoring in Political Science “to better understand the world around me.” Now, this does not mean that to be on the youth cabinet, one must be interested in having a future in politics, but rather that this whole experience will encourage one to have a bigger part in the community. This can be supported by what Madison said about her time at the youth cabinet: “It is an amazing opportunity for students who want to get more involved in their local community because the knowledge that you gain about national matters can also affect small cities and towns. Madison continued by saying that she liked, “getting to experience other’s opinions and ideas, as well as meeting and making bonds with people my age from across the state.”

   I would absolutely encourage upcoming juniors to apply for this eye-opening learning experience. If you’re interested, talk with your English teacher or counselor.