For the past few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the power of the vote.
I realized I’ve taken it for granted. I was born in to a society where at age 18 I’d fill out a form in my high school government class and suddenly have a say in who will lead our nation. I felt the value of the vote - the privilege.
Then I got over it. Voting became something everyone does (or could). I associated voting with long lines, or a wasted ballot when I lived in states where we all knew who would win.
But during the past few weeks, as I’ve been making a new docu-series about Clarkston, the spark of democracy reignited.
Seeing America through the eyes of refugees who built a new life for themselves broadened my appreciation for what I take for granted.
I saw a group of new citizens take the Oath of Citizenship and got chills when I saw their smiles. I met an aspiring politician who immigrated from Bhutan, became a U.S. citizen and ran for city council twice (He hasn’t won yet, but teaches citizenship classes in his spare time). Perhaps most striking was Leon from Congo, who escaped a war-torn country to find a new home in Clarkston. He plans to apply for citizenship as soon as he can.
What they all have in common is a respect for democracy and an appreciation of the title of “American.” They weren’t born in to it. They earned it.
But have they earned the right to vote?
In our new docu-series, They the People, we explore what one small Southern city is proposing: expanding voting rights during local elections to all citizens… even if they aren’t U.S. citizens.
To me, it’s either democracy at its finest… or the most Un-American thing a city could do.
You can watch the series here at www.TheyThePeople.com to help you decide.
What do you think: Democracy at its finest? Or Un-American?
Jeremy Campbell is an ATLien, storyteller, traveler... & often all three at once.