One Impression This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Recently I was in Washington, D.C. with a large group of students as a participant in the Close-Up program. We were there to learn about the Federal government, how it operates, and who operates it. One major idea stressed was that voters are the only group of people whose ideas and views are recognized by many politicians. Generally, non-voters cannot meaningfully influence legislators.

One of the many sites we visited was Lafayette Park, which is across from the White House. We had the opportunity to view people who were attempting to communicate directly with government officials rather than through the vote. On the sidewalk around the park there were people who believe that the current policies on certain issues should be changed to improve the state of the United States (or of the world). These people sit on the sidewalk next to signs which express their views, dispensing handouts and talking to passers-by.

I was impressed after speaking with one man who was against nuclear war. He talked with a group of students about many issues, including their views on U.S. foreign relations, and he seemed well-spoken and very intelligent. He has been at Lafayette Park for six years, campaigning against nuclear war. In the beginning, I respected him and his knowledge. However, as I thought more about him and his situation, I began to wonder why this man had given up a home to sleep on the sidewalk. He was devoted to his cause and was educating the general public, but he was not attracting the attention of the necessary people: the elected officials. He was not accomplishing what he had set out to do.

I believe that these protestors are wasting their energy by staying outside of the normal political system. The system may not be perfect, but by working within it, these people would be able to accomplish much more than they are at this time.n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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