The Student Council President of my high school stood up at All-School-Meeting a few days ago and read a little speech about how he got his draft registration card in the mail the very day he turned 18 with very clear instructions about how to register for the draft. If he didn’t, the letter said, he could face hundreds of thousands of dollar fines, multi-year imprisonment, or both. On the other hand, he got nothing about how to register to vote and everyone knows there are no consequences for failing to participate in our democracy. At the end of his announcement, he held his draft card up high and then ripped it up. Everyone was a little shocked.
As my friends around me start registering for the draft, it definitely brings our perpetual “war on terror” into very real terms. It also brings questions. My guy friends are wondering why the girls don’t have to register. For others this gets them more involved in politics. Bottom line: as the people around me send in their draft card, and when I get mine in a year and a half, all the newspaper articles about Iraq, all the interviews with family members of people serving, it all becomes so very very real.
Speaking of registering voters, a buddy of mine started a local chapter of Freedom’s Answer, a bipartisan organization run by youth under 18 to get out the vote. This morning I emailed my brothers with links to where they can get absentee ballots. It definitely isn’t as easy as registering for the draft, I can tell you that much. I then printed out a permanent absentee registration form for my Dad so he doesn’t have to worry about being in town on Nov 2. Finally, about 15 guys and girls from my high school spent an hour or two on Haight Street registering voters. It is shocking when people respond to “Excuse me, are you registered to vote?” with “No and I don’t want to.” A lot of people just don’t want to be bothered, especially when they’re swarmed by DNC folks raising money. The get of the vote effort is bipartisan, important, and easy to do. Please find a local org and get involved.