Announcement: Pausing All Political Activities for my Senior Year

Roger Carbajal - via Insperity.

As is often said, this election will have great consequences for our nation. The 2022 midterms will, unlike many midterms before them, determine – from the Capitol to our County Executive – how our country will develop over these next few years. Our most potent issues – inflation, climate change, LGBTQ rights, voting rights, election integrity, to name a few – will all be put to the test on November 8th of this year, and each of these issues will be demonstrably and unilaterally affected by the outcome of that day.

Yet there is something far more important, far more fundamental, and far more exciting for our country’s future, the ramifications of which will extend to the very corners of American society, bringing our nation nearer to the true philosophy of Locke, Madison and Rousseau. It is voter registration, particularly for young adults.

Since I began organizing in politics, I have sought to tap into this fertile soil of democracy; last year, with the help of the League of Women Voters and our high school’s Awareness of Racial Inequality, I organized a voter registration event at our school. In a short time, over a dozen volunteers and I helped to register forty students in the class of 2022 to vote, and many of them went on to vote in our local elections.

I was very specific that, despite my presence as a critic of some candidates, I would maintain a fierce commitment to nonpartisanship and inclusivity; I helped register many kids (likely a majority of those who registered) who would go on to vote for the candidates I did not support. And I would do it again, even if they went on to vote against even those I support for this election cycle.

Over a five-month period, with the help of that voter registration drive, I came to realize that to be a true champion of democracy, I must prioritize it; I must be an active supporter of voter registration and voter turnout, regardless of party or ideology. I found that I could not involve myself in anything which would discourage someone from registering themselves to vote at the events we run.

That is partly why, after weeks of consideration, I have decided to pause all political activities – excluding nonpartisan voter registration and related programs – for the time being. I intend to pause such activities until at least the end of my senior year, which would keep me from all involvement until I am in college. Politically, I have chosen to focus entirely on registering my fellow class to vote, and nothing else; I also will make no more endorsements this year. I have made it my personal goal to help register over 50% of our class (a pretty high percentage compared to even the most registered schools in the country) to vote by the time our class graduates.

As always, important decisions never result from a single facet:

  • Time is a significant factor, as I will now be dually enrolled at UW-Milwaukee and will be taking a full college schedule on top of a – rather significantly reduced – high school schedule.

  • I would like to focus my main extracurricular activities on astronomy, particularly the Milwaukee Astronomical Society. Once our club’s Wi-Fi is installed, I hope to organize and help run public workshops and streams, including star parties and Twitch streams of our astrophotography sessions and public nights.

  • I have significant moral objections to supporting a political party, particularly because I consider party politics to be undemocratically exclusive and power-seeking – neither party caters to all the people. If I ever endorse candidates again, I will always cross-ticket (as a default), and I will do the same in voting, particularly because of party dynamics.

  • Although I have grown used to the hatred that comes unfortunately naturally in organized politics, I have found it to infect every other facet of my life – including, most importantly, my astronomy life. I cannot lose friendships in astronomy because of my exploits in politics; one, to me, is simply a lot more important than the other. I also am way too stressed out by all the political activities; when you begin to lead groups, far too many people rely on you to continue to lead them, regardless of your life outside of it. Such happened during the local elections as well as during our human rights protests.

The reasons above are among those I have cited as the main considerations leading to the pause. As of Monday of last week, I have relinquished my place as steering committee member and communications lead of Grassroots Menomonee Falls, and as a leader and publicizer for Thursday Nights for Human Rights. Although I never was a registered member of the Democratic Party, I have relinquished all ties with it and will no longer be attending their meetings or volunteering with them.

All endorsements I have made – all of you whom I have endorsed are Facebook friends of mine, so you all can see this post – are still in effect, and will remain in effect until November 8th. I do, however, ask that such endorsements are not used for further outreach activities in your campaigns, including on your websites (please do not list me as a supporter).

Understand, everyone, that this decision did not come lightly; I know, however, that for the most fundamental means of democracy and for the unity of our country, my decision was the right one. I will still engage in issue-specific activism, but I will go no further than outreach.

To those of you who know me from politics: it has been a great ride! I thank you all for being so supportive of me and dedicated to the issues we were fighting for. To those of you who know me from other things (and politics) who do not particularly like my politics: let the tides of our political differences pass, and our friendship begin again (or just begin, if you are not yet my friend).

        As I have always said, we are all siblings, and we are all interconnected; regardless of your politics or mine, we will always be friends, neighbors and brothers.