Involvement in politics great for youths

Milford High School has a Young Republicans Club – the MHS Young Republicans – and that, we think, is a good thing. We don’t know if the school has a Young Democrats Club or a Young Independents Club, but those would be good things, too.

Say what you will about politics in this day and age, say what you will about any particular political party, but young people getting involved, regardless of which side of the spectrum that involvement falls, is never a bad thing. We have too many people – young and older – who know little about how our political process works, who know even less about the issues and who vote in lockstep with whatever group they decide to which they belong.

This goes for all parties. How often have we heard someone say, “I’ve never voted for a Republican in my life,” or, “I would never vote for a Democrat.” Those are statements made out of ignorance of the points of view of the other side. Not everything for which a Republican or a Democrat stands possibly can be anathema to someone of the other persuasion. We have common ground. We must.

Mustn’t we?

Recent surveys have found that high school students, and even many college students, don’t know much about the American system of government, not even that it has three branches. Can you name them? If you stopped 10 people on the street and asked them to name the three branches of the American government, how many could name all three? We think that in New Hampshire, you’d get a better percentage than in many other parts of the nation, thanks at least in part to our first-in-the-nation primary that energizes us sooner for presidential races than happens in other states.

According to a press release from the MHS Young Republicans about a fundraiser they attended at Foodee’s Restaurant, now owned by former state Sen. Peter Bragon, of Milford – a Republican, as you might have guessed or, given his tenure, probably knew – the club, advised by Marguerite Ferrer, discusses current events and brings politics into the school.

Of course, being the MHS Young Republicans, the focus is on “the tenets of the Republican Party, some of which being upholding the Constitution, limited government, and individual rights.” Terrific.

We hope, though, that when the MHS Young Republicans – or the Young Democrats or the Young Independents, if they exist (and we hope they do) – discuss things such as current events, they don’t do it wearing political blinders. It would be good, for instance, at each meeting to have a designated “opponent,” a club member who had been chosen to present the other side of a particular issue set for discussion. It does no one any good to simply hear one side of anything, regardless of how “right” that side appears from the prism of the party sponsoring the group or meeting.

Often, we learn from the obverse. If all we talk about, if all we think about, are points of view with which we already agree, well, as Bob Dylan wrote, “Ain’t no use talkin’ to you, it’s the same as talkin’ to me.”

You already know what you think. Don’t you want to at least hear the thoughts of someone with a differing point of view? If you don’t, then you don’t understand the basic concept of a democratic society, which is free and open debate with ideas shared and, sometimes, opinions changed.

So, hooray for the MHS Young Republicans – and the Young Independents and the Young Democrats and, yes, even the Young Socialists, if such things exist – because involvement is better than ennui.

But remember this: If all you hear is the echo of your own thoughts, well, to paraphrase Dylan, “Ain’t no use talking to him, it’s the same as talkin’ to you.”

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