By Olivia Libowitz
Elm Staff Writer

What were we all doing on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 2 p.m.? If the answer was not “Walking to Dixon Valve & Coupling Company to hear Paul Ryan speak,” then I’ve got a few questions for you.

Recently, House Speaker Paul Ryan came to Chestertown to pitch the administration’s new tax plan to the employees at Dixon Valve, located on High Street. The tax plan proposed several changes, like an elimination of the dependency credit deduction, and switching the number of tax brackets from seven down to three (with a mysterious fourth bracket that Ryan has yet to define clearly.) He says it’s going to lower the tax cuts for the upper class, again, without specifying how exactly he’s going to move that money around.

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Maybe this tax reform will be absolutely destructive to our economy. Maybe not. It could possibly revitalize our market. I don’t know. To tell the truth, I don’t have nearly the grasp on how the tax system works to even hypothesize how this will go down. Here’s what I do know: more people should have shown up.

I got there early, around 1 p.m. Who was there? Me, four cleaning ladies eating lunch in the parking lot, a woman with a walkie-talkie guarding the door, and two guards discussing Ryan’s current position already inside the building. What I mostly wondered though was, where was everyone else? All the other students clamoring to get a word in edgewise? There were no other spectators in sight.

Of course, more people arrived closer to the actual time of Ryan’s speech. Members of the Black Student Union, Cleopatra’s Sisters, and Indivisible in Kent & Queen Anne’s counties showed up about an hour after I did to protest. I couldn’t stay long, because of class, but when I was there, I was removed from the premises by one of the guards, who told me I had to go across the street. This is where the protest eventually formed.

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That’s all great. It’s great that members of those groups showed up. It’s great that several members of the College Republicans showed up. All together, though, it was, say, a cool 30-40 people. I find this a little exasperating.

We live in a world where we all have opinions out the wazoo. We have opinions on everything, especially politics. I’m going to be that person for a moment: us millennials love to put our opinions out into the world, on social media, as loudly as we can. I’ll bet the majority of people reading this have shared a political opinion publicly in some capacity, and yet when one of the major players in our country’s government shows up three minutes away, we can’t manage to go out and get involved?

I get it. There are reasons that stop us from going. I myself came early because I had a class at 2:30 p.m. The fact that at a school of several thousand, only 40 or so people showed up—not all students, either—is astonishing. I don’t care whether you’re for or against our current governmental leaders, Ryan, or the tax changes. I don’t care if you want to raise picket signs or applaud the man as he walks out to his car. We need to stay involved, though. Many of our government’s current leaders are banking on our generation not caring enough about politics to stay informed about what’s going on or get involved when we see things we want changed. The Atlantic reported that in the past presidential election, millennials only turned out 10 million votes out of a possible 46 million.

If you’re for or against something, you should have a desire to be informed about it. To go and find out more. If nothing else, this might have been the best chance you’ll ever have to be this close to our country’s House speaker. A three-minute walk away.

Engaging with our government will never be easier. I’m not telling you that you have to feel one way or the other about the political situation right now, I’m just telling you that you have to care about what’s going on in the world, our country, and just down the road.

The Elm

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