CHS welcomes Blumenauer and Rosenbaum on National Voter Registration Day

By Ashley Lytle, Reporter

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Cleveland High School was honored with the appearance of two political guests in its halls on Tuesday, Sept. 22, National Voter Registration day. Congressman Earl Blumenauer gave an appearance and talked to an assembly of students and staff in the auditorium about his experiences, issues students care about, and the importance of registering to vote. Afterwards, Cleveland received a visit from Senator Diane Rosenbaum, who helped register students to vote.

The whole event was due to the work of two Cleveland students, seniors Ophelia Cavill and Camille MacLean, volunteers for The Bus Project. The non-profit political organization has the goal to get youth registered to vote but also to get them involved in relevant social issues. “It works to inspire political passion in young people,” explained Cavill.

They’ve been volunteering for The Bus Project since they first heard of it in their government class their sophomore year at Cleveland. The conversation was sparked when a volunteer from the project came and gave a presentation. MacLean also interned there in the summer of 2014.

MacLean and Cavill were both able to register to vote themselves this summer. After receiving word that Blumenauer and Rosenbaum were interested in visiting a local high school to promote and to help with National Voter Registration day, Cavill worked with school officials to plan the event. Tuesday after the assembly with Blumenauer, Cavill and MacLean held a voting drive in the front halls of Cleveland with the goal to get as many people to register as they could.

“We both want to spread the message that voting is so important for young people. We can make a difference if we all vote for things we care about! We DO have a very strong voice even though we are only teenagers,” expressed Cavill.

With the help of Congressman Blumenauer and Senator Rosenbaum they managed to register about 60 students Tuesday with several others taking a registration form home to return later that week.

Blumenauer started his political career as a college student working on a campaign to lower the voter age. In most states at this time the legal voting age was 21 years old. At this time protests were engulfing the United States around the Vietnam War.

This is where the legal age of voting came into place. Men were being drafted, some only 18 years old, and they were not given an opportunity to vote on anything, including the issues directly affecting them.

As a college student, Blumenauer testified before Congress and “watched the dynamic as young people around the country carried this banner and continued a struggle that really pre-dates the founding of our country about who has the right to make decisions for the community,” he reminisced.

He believes that the core problem is a lack of Americans taking advantage of our opportunity to vote. “The bottom line is it is important for you to take advantage of [voting] because nobody is going to represent your interests as well as you will and make no mistake, you have the greatest stake in the decisions that government is involved with now.”

One example Blumenauer gave on how much these problems will affect today’s youth detailed global warming. “If the air is polluted, you are going to breathe that polluted air more than twice as long as the average geezer politician,” said Blumenauer.

“In Oregon, it is easier to register than in almost any other state,” stated Blumenauer in a final push to encourage students to register to vote.

Not only did Blumenauer talk to Cleveland about registering to vote but he also opened up the floor to questions from the students and staff.

Cleveland English teacher Alex Gordin asked for Blumenauer’s opinion on Republican candidate Ben Carson’s comment that people of muslim descent should not be eligible to be president, a comment which he later tried to amend. Blumenauer stated, “This is a gift that we’ve got in terms of being inclusive and welcoming of people. Regardless of what their faith may be, they have a right to participate as citizens, they have a right to run for office, they have a right to represent their core beliefs. That is one of the strengths of America and it saddens me that there are people who would hold themselves up running for higher office who don’t respect that important tradition.”

Blumenauer received plenty of support from students and staff who were present for a few controversial issues, two of those being the lack of news coverage on issues we care about as well as a mutual dislike for the one and only, Donald Trump.

He summed up his feelings for Trump stating, “You know, I think he’s a jerk.” After the applause died down he continued saying, “I think that it would be funny if he weren’t being given all this attention, if he weren’t so submissive of women and minorities, and if he weren’t so insulting to the intelligence of the American people.”

Sarcastically mocking Trump, Blumenauer said, “Well, I’m rich so I know what to do… well, actually Donald, your father was rich and if you would have just taken the money that he gave you and just invested it in an index fund that nobody has to look at and let it grow, you’d have more money and you wouldn’t have gone bankrupt four times.”

Blumenauer said during a conversation on issues in our world and what youth should do about them, “I think that it’s very important for people to reflect on what matters to them. I don’t care what somebody’s particular passion might be”.

Education and global warming were issues he encouraged students to think about. When naming ways for youth to get involved, he stated letter writing, talking to politicians, and working with the school board as some ideas.

“Cleveland could have some very significant impact on the elections that are coming up. What if you organized a candidates debate for mayor? I bet if you organized it the candidates would come,” Blumenauer encouraged.

“I appreciate having your attention, having a chance to share some of my biases with you, and I’m looking forward to working with you so that our community does a better job of making sure that students have opportunities in school and beyond, that we do a better job providing support for families that need it, [and] that we are a state that’s not going to turn our backs on our problems but we are going to work together to solve them because the stakes are too high not to do it,” concluded Blumenauer.

Blumenauer covered several different topics during the initial assembly and then afterwards joined MacLean and Cavill with helping to register students to vote. They were joined by Senator Diane Rosenbaum who additionally lent her services to helping register students on this National Voting Registration day. As a whole, they managed to spread the word that local youth needs to lend their voices in order to make the changes they desire and one way to do that is by registering to vote.