Looking across the messages scrawled across the Fight Apathy posters in their hands it was easy to see how the members of the DC JSA staff came to find themselves dedicated to the cause of getting students involved in public life; each started from deeply felt commitment to the causes they held in their hands and to the idea that it was important for our public discourse to start conversations about those commitments.
Beliefs spanned the political spectrum and ranged from perpetually unachieved goals such as “Equal Pay For Equal Work” and “DC Statehood” to those with momentum such as “Marriage Equality” and to the politically unlikely such as “Flat Taxation”, “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”, and “Gun Control.”
Andy Clark, the Program Director for the Ohio River Valley and Midwest States and a recent candidate for his Advisory Neighborhood Commission this last November said he supported DC Statehood because “More people live here than in two other states. When our nation goes to war young people from DC who might be in harms way have no voice in our government.”
Even after the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act and a half-century after the start of the modern Women’s Movement women still earn less than men do for the same work. Elizabeth Ventura, the Mid-Atlantic State Program Director, said that she “Believes in Equal Pay for Equal Work” because it’s basic fairness and something unfinished in our society.
Larry Guillemette advocated for a Flat Tax as a matter of fairness. He discussed the way in which people pay income taxes on their earnings, then sales taxes when they spend those earnings, and in many states, estate taxes on the previously taxed money after a lifetime of saving. A flat tax and scrapping multiple levels of taxation would lower the burden on working people and be a fairer way to pay taxes he said.
An immigrant from Sierra Leone herself, Winstina Hughes explained how difficult the immigration system could be, especially for students, who might not be able to stay in the country after completing their studies, or who might be barred from gaining permanent residency or returning if they over-stayed student visas even briefly. If our nation adopts comprehensive immigration reform then at the very least, our society might better hold on to immigrant students whose drive and education contribute so much to our society.
Fight Apathy is about starting conversations about what we believe in so that we can engage in conversations, share ideas, and realize that each and every one of us cares deeply about something, and that something is worth advocating and voting for.