In the same year of the 2012 elections, I've turned 19 years old and realized that politics just “got real” for me. For the whole year, I've been asking myself many questions: Should I even vote because I don’t know what I want? If I register with a party, which one should I side with according to my interests? Where do I fit in the grand scheme of things?
With these few perplexing questions in mind, I ventured to find some answers. Interestingly, I began to talk with some of my fellow Cornell students and have found some of my feelings to be mutual. There are quite a few young individuals who are confused and want to stand for something revolutionary, but can’t quite track it down (at least completely in one politician).
On one day in April, I decided to open an online invitation being passed around through email. The subject was Youth for Ron Paul, which focused on rallying students and others on various campuses. My curiosity led me to do more research on Paul. As I searched my inbox for more emails about Ron Paul, one stood out titled, “Recapture America's youth.” I was invigorated just by those three words, did some quick reading, and readily went back to the invitation to R.S.V.P. to the free event for Ron Paul.
When I arrived on the scene, to my surprise, Ron Paul seemed to be a local favorite. But I couldn’t help but realize that my friend and I were a minority (I guess racism was on our minds since Trayvon Martin’s case was unfolding in the news at the time). It was a huge event, a hockey stadium filled with people coming from all over the area, and it was an extremely loud rally. We were uncomfortable as we were maybe two of less-than-ten African-Americans that were in sight. Honestly, I felt like I went back in time; it was like my mind went back to a place where I would’ve been rejected. This was not necessarily Ron Paul’s fault. My friend and I were simply bothered by the looks of some people around us. As Paul could only get out a couple words before the crowd would scream to show their support, we sat down quietly, just looking around in awe. I guess to some, we surely didn’t seem like supporters. A phrase like “that awkward moment” would’ve been appropriate. But as soon as I drowned out all of the noise and started to pay attention to what everyone was altogether too crazy about, I was enlightened.
Ron Paul seemed like a down-to-earth kind of guy, unlike some politicians. He reminded me of a grandfather. His emphasis on getting our liberties back was particularly mesmerizing. He talked about internet freedoms and other liberties that should be redeemed and protected. Ultimately, he made it clear that our country went off on a course that favors government supremacy over the regular “John and Jane Doe.” As a youngster, his words intrigued me; they seemed revolutionary and refreshing. However, when I thought about what he was saying, I couldn’t stop thinking about the implications of individual freedoms, (like I mentioned Trayvon Martin’s case probably caused most of my frustration).
Ron Paul seems to believe that we are rational human beings and that when the government makes decisions for us, our rights are being infringed. This is all good, but to me, I don’t think human beings are rational (and of course, gun laws come to mind). Many questions began to race through my head. What do individual freedoms mean to others? What do they mean for people, regardless of race, gender, or any other description, like Trayvon Martin? Ron Paul’s vague chants for liberties didn’t translate well to me, especially as a minority student. Again, I found myself lost in the whirlwind of political jargon. I just couldn’t relate to individual freedoms because the phrase wasn’t really explained (even though I understand the historical aspect of the terms). In a way, I thought Ron Paul’s words could be distractions from erasing laws that allow people the “freedoms” to keep others in bondage or to slaughter another person. I did go way back in that stadium and tried to exit, but before I knew it, I actually withstood the madness. Ron Paul spoke “Restore America,” but I thought that if anything, America needs a transformation.