By Miguel Locsin, FINDink Contributor
Every day I am constantly surrounded by smart, motivated young people with an itching to make his or her unique dent in the world. I have friends who want to become doctors, activists, champions on progressive rights, respectable and ethical accountants, lawyers, teachers, scientists. All these are amazing things, and all these make sense given that universities are institutions where young people are encouraged to think about the future, and innovate from there. It is my hope that this is the experience of college students all around the world. It is certainly a privilege to go through something that is similar to my experience here at the College of William and Mary.
At my Filipino club here at the College, I believe that our members are more than representative of the population as a whole. We are the most diverse cultural organization on campus, including many members who have little to no biological connection to Filipinos, yet enjoy and celebrate the camaraderie and happiness that is exemplified in all the good sides of traditional Filipino culture. This is something I am immensely proud of.
Given all these good things that I have said above, I do not know of anybody who has told me that politics is in their future. I was immensely excited when Kelly Fowler, a Filipino-American, won a seat on the Virginia House of Delegates. Even then, Filipino-American representation in the United States is scant, considering that Filipino Americans make up approximately 1.1% of the US population. This goes for more than just Filipino Americans at my school. There are many people who want to pursue a career related to politics, but consider how often you hear about somebody who actually wants to run for office when he or she grows up.
This is understandable. I, for one, consider the life of a politician to be a miserable one. A good politician will work all day under the pretense of good ambitions, may be perceived to get very little done, and will still be invariably hated by some fraction of the constituency, especially in this political climate. Running for office is a tiring affair as well, and the chances of winning may be very small. I must confess that although I am a premedical student who has given some thought in running for office in the future, I doubt that a life in politics will ever happen for me.
But why is that the case? Why aren’t people like me motivated to run for a governmental position? While I ask these questions of myself, the GOP is attempting to pass the largest tax reform of its time based upon the trickle down economic theory that has been empirically proven not to work. The state of the nation’s healthcare policy hangs in the balance, and the opioid epidemic is as strong as ever in all of the 50 states and territories.
Nobody is in a better position to fix these problems with good, meaningful policy changes than somebody who is seated in office. Activists always say to call up your representative in office to get something done, yet the message to actually run for office is almost inexistent, in my experience. More competition in elections means a more robust, efficient democracy. Investigating the reasoning behind this lack of political ambition is imperative in the progression of democracies around the world. Why is it so expensive to run for office in America? Why do the richest win? Why is minority representation so abysmal? How is gerrymandering even a thing? How the heck did someone so unqualified win the presidency of the federal government? May we ask these questions rhetorically to ourselves and our friends and family, and then ask ourselves if what we want to do in our lives will make the biggest, most meaningful dent in society. Let us ask how good of a version of ourselves can we create. We are the young future of this nation. Let’s make it the best version of America it can be.
Disclaimer: The views of the author do not necessarily represent the views of FIND, Inc.