CNN has reported that David Hogg will be taking a “gap year” between his graduation from high school later this spring and the start of his college career. I applaud this decision. I hope, though, that David uses his year off to inform his opinions rather than inform us about his opinions.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give any young person seeking a career in politics is: have a “real” job first. Go be a soldier, sailor, or airman before you seek to decide what “appropriately reciprocal force” is. Spend a few years living in an efficiency walk up scrounging every cent you can just to pay rent, before you pontificate on housing initiatives. Provide healthcare, or be a teacher, in the dusty, abandoned, coal towns of Appalachia before becoming an advocate for (or against) the welfare state. Start your own business. Fail, at least twice, at a job—any job. Serve coffee on the midnight – 6am shift at an interstate truck stop and listen to the stories of the long-haul truckers and migrant workers.
David, I applaud your enthusiasm for encouraging people to vote. But, before you travel to Anniston, Alabama; Boulder, Colorado; or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a get-out-the-vote worker, learn about why people should vote. Learn, please, what motivates the average citizen. Learn, too, the differences between an “average” citizen in Miami and one in Salem, Oregon. Better yet, go work registering and encouraging voters in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Ukraine. See what it is like in countries without 240 years of democratic self-rule.
I promise that you, and the country you seek to serve, will be better off. Take your gap year, by all means. Just, please, don’t spend it flitting from one TV station to another.