In The Mind of a George School Student: Voting for the First Time


by Holdyn Barder ’17

Any member of the George School community can affirm that politics is a big chunk of the current discussion trends within the school, especially in the wake of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. As a George School senior, I stumble upon various opinions from my peers, teachers, and other sources regarding the election and I am forced to think one thing: “Wow!” I believe that one of the more important lessons George School has taught me is being able to consider all sides of any spectrum and then consciously form my own intellectual and meaningful opinions after looking at all of the facts. Personally, the origin of perceiving situations in this way comes from the still nature of the values and morals that guide George School, the backbone of Quakerism. Although I do not affiliate myself with The Religious Society of Friends, the ‘Quaker Way’ has been the cornerstone for my decision-making and motivation in my life. Let me take you on a brief journey to show you how my experience in Friends education relates to this election and why it is special to me as an American.

Looking back to when I was a little boy, I can clearly remember the cheers, the rallies, the campaign signs, the news, and everything that had to do with the elections (of the four in my lifetime, excluding this election). I regarded the Presidential Elections as the biggest events in the entire world (keeping into perspective the large scale of reality from a child’s point of view). Now, after examining this 2016 Presidential Election, I have come to the conclusion that I wasn’t too wrong after all–this very well could be the biggest electoral decision ever made in our country’s, or the world’s, history.

Let me take you back to when I was about seven or eight years old. Around that time, my father began his involvement with politics in Bucks County. As a young boy, I remember going to rallies, campaign events, and living the tiny political dream world of Holdyn Barder. I cannot exactly pinpoint the origin of my strong national pride. It could be my father’s service in the United States Marine Corps, the childhood memories of attending political events with my parents, my vague remembrance of September 11th, or simply my citizenship…but what I do know is that there is something different about this election than any other: My voice matters now.

This simple fact is exciting and true, but what is also correct is that I will be voting in the 8th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, which, by many, is considered one of the swing regions of this swing state. My vote matters…a lot. The idea that the outcome of the national popular vote falling into the hands of a small portion of Pennsylvania residents is mind boggling. There is pressure, and for an eighteen-year-old voting for the first time, I know that it is best to connect back to my cornerstone of Quakerism in these turbulent times.

Lately, I have been pondering over the recent drama, and adversities circumambulating both major campaigns, and I find that the most beneficial method to handle that drama is to simply shut off the station or device broadcasting it. I have discovered that the media strongly influences lives and opinions, as seen in the 2016 Presidential Election. It is important to stay true to who I am and to not be swept away by the drama which is something I believe many can agree on. I have seen all three 2016 Presidential Debates, attended several campaign events this year, and nothing has brought me more clarity than shutting out the noise simply by being.

This election is special to me – not only because it is my first time voting, but it reflects the forgotten beauty and freedom of democracy in this country. November 8th, 2016 is the day that I will be casting my first vote and I will be joining millions of other fellow Americans citizens. God Bless the United States of America.


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