by Madison Kimrey
While I’ve been talking to people all over the country about the importance of responsible citizenship and encouraging the involvement of next generation of leaders, you have done nothing to promote the core values of our democracy to the youth of our state, seek our input, or demonstrate that you are listening to our concerns.
I had the honor of attending the President’s remarks to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act earlier this month. Here are some parts of what the President said:
“There are all kinds of battles we have to fight. But we miss the forest for the trees if we don’t also recognize that huge chunks of us, citizens, just give away our power. We’d rather complain than do something about it. We won’t vote, and then we’ll talk about the terrible political process that isn’t doing anything.”Governor McCrory, you have not done the right thing. Two years ago, when you called a then 12 year old girl’s request to meet with you ridiculous and called her a liberal prop, when you failed to even read the part of the bill that eliminated the pre-registration program that registered over 160,000 teenagers in our state along with the education programs that went along with it before you signed the bill, and when you later called opportunities for our students to be educated and prepared to vote a bureaucratic burden, you did not do the right thing. By your continued failure to put in place a reasonable alternative to the eliminated programs that have been proven to increase voter turnout among our young people, you have not done the right thing.
“…how do we mobilize, how do we galvanize, how do we get people focused not only on laws but also on our habits — our habits of citizenship? How do we instill in people a sense of why this is so critically important?”
“The bottom line is everybody here has a part to play. Members of Congress need to do the right thing. State legislators and governors, they need to do the right thing. Businesses — make it easier for your employees to vote. Do the right thing. Universities, other civic institutions — help register people to vote; provide civic education. Do the right thing.”
But it’s not too late. It is not too late to demonstrate the qualities of leadership our youth need to see modeled by the person occupying the highest office in our state. Last year, to commemorate our very special anniversary, I presented the idea of you making a video to be shown to high school students across the state to encourage them to become lifelong voters. President Obama recently honored one of our state’s citizens, Miss Rosanell Eaton, in a letter to the editor published in the NY Times. Miss Rosanell has been a personal inspiration to me. Every time I see her, she encourages me, and even though there is an 80 year age difference between us, we share a passionate desire to improve our state and our country and an affinity for awesome hats. What can you do to honor this great citizen of our state, Governor, and learn from her example? What can you do to bridge the gap between generations and show our young people they can join with people of all ages, races, backgrounds, beliefs, and political leanings to make our state great?
When I traveled to Washington State earlier this year to speak in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr, I said:
“In our steadfast and faithful watch over the American dream, we are each other’s keepers. And when we sense indifference in any of our fellow watchmen, it is our duty to shake them awake and remind them that what they guard is precious and has been granted only through the sacrifices made and the blood shed by those who came before them… The task before us is to engage our neighbors in democracy. And that doesn’t mean only those neighbors who we know are going to vote the same way we will. No, we must fight against the polarization and divisiveness of our current political landscape and reclaim OUR role as the government of the UNITED States of America. Because the short space across the aisle is not the Grand Canyon and when we focus less on commentary and more on the common good, we will find solutions to the problems we face and find that the path to progress and prosperity is not as treacherous as we once thought when we walk it together.”Wake up, Governor McCrory. In the 2014 election, more than 75% of voters under 30 across the country and more than 80% of voters under 30 in our state failed to participate in the voting process.
In 2013, you said, “I had a 12 year old girl outside my gate at 10:30 at night, saying that she was hungry.” My response was that, “The young people of this state and this nation will stand at every gate and we will make our voices heard at every hour. Make no mistake what it is we are hungry for.” The young people of our state are still hungry for the kind of leadership we deserve, Governor.
My baking skills have improved a great deal over the last two years. My offer is still open if you’d like to sit down over a piece of cake and discuss how we can work together to educate and encourage the youth of North Carolina to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.