To The Daily Sun,
In recent weeks, I have heard a great many people discussing the upcoming presidential election. Some are feeling frustrated with the process and candidates, even going as far as to say they are simply not going to vote. This reluctance to vote, along with some real negativity about the candidates, has affected our students' understanding of the people's duty to vote.
As an educator and leader of an educational institution tasked in part with developing tomorrow's citizens, this is of great concern to me. Too many of our students are already showing disdain for the election process and saying that they are never going to vote, as it just doesn't matter. Franklin D. Roosevelt faced a similar issue back in the 1930s and '40s — in the midst of the Great Depression and World War II. He responded to the situation by reminding citizens that, "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting."
Statesman and New Hampshire native, Daniel Webster, explained that we need to, "Impress upon children the truth that the exercise of the elective franchise is a social duty ... that a man may not innocently trifle with his vote ... that every measure he supports has an important bearing on the interests of others as well as on his own."
According to Webster, it is all of our solemn duty to reiterate the importance of voting to our children. He and so many others fought for our right to vote, first from the British, then from ourselves (many times over). From white wealthy and educated men, to white poor men, to all men, to all women, this has been a long and arduous journey of one group after another fighting for the right to have their voices be heard and matter. The battle has shifted from gaining the right to be heard and matter to one of caring to be heard at all.
How can we sit idly by and allow this precious gift to be squandered? How do we reverse this trend and remind folks that the very premise of our republican system of government is based on Jefferson's principle that, "Should things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights."
Well, Winnisquam Regional Middle School is going to do its part to try and meet our solemn duty as defined by Webster, to spark the life and love of democracy and republican government back into our students by providing all middle and high school students with instruction and practice through a Mock Election.
To our excitement, we have discovered that many others in our community also believe in this solemn duty. The town of Tilton has joined forces with Winnisquam Regional School District to develop a mock election process and event where all middle and high school students will receive instruction into the process, purpose, and duty as it relates to democracy and republican ideals at the national, state, and local government levels.
We are all excited to be part of this journey and hope that it will have true meaning to the future of voting in Tilton, Northfield, and Sanbornton. The event is Monday, Nov. 7, in the Winnisquam Regional High School gymnasium, using the town of Tilton's actual booths and voting equipment (minus the ballot machine). The event will be as true to the actual election as possible and the students will receive a battery of lessons and information leading up to the big event. We hope that all of this effort will help spark meaningful conversation, debate, and dialogue between students, families, friends and neighbors, and through this, help shape a more informed electorate with a passion for their precious gift, the right to vote.
Finally, it is important for everyone to remember that this election is not just about Clinton and Trump, it is about the next president, governor, senator (state and national), representative (state and national), executive councilor, etc. While the next president is very important and carries significant consideration, it is our president in conjunction with the U.S. Congress, state, and local elected officials each doing their part who truly shape America, New Hampshire, Tilton, Northfield, and Sanbornton.
Rob Seaward, Principal
Winnisquam Regional Middle School