A Good Politician, An American Youth

This past Tuesday was election day.  Rather than deliberate over all of Tuesday’s winners and losers and analyze whether they meet Max Weber’s criteria for a good politician as stated in his essay, Politics as a Vocation (Politik als Beruf,) I will instead highlight one politician who stood apart from the crowd.  No, I’m not talking about any newly elected Governor or Senator, I’m talking about the next state legislator of a small district in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle.  Sara Blair is a West Virginia University freshman who ran a campaign for public office out of her college dorm room and won.  She will be the youngest state lawmaker in the country after trouncing her Democratic challenger by over 30 percentage points.

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Saira Blair’s campaign poster which proudly touts her right wing positions and displays her passion in particular for protecting Second Amendment rights.

So why is Ms. Blair different from any of the other swarms of candidates who won on Tuesday?  Well, Blair epitomizes the cornerstones of Weber’s piece.  She displays passionate commitment to the principles on which she stands by sacrificing her limited time and own financial capital on her campaign.  Blair did not have the luxury of being a full-time candidate as election season rolled around like many of her counterparts in races across the country.  She remained a full time student at a flagship university.  She also contributed $4,000 of her own personal finances to her campaign, undoubtedly a large stake considering she has only had a couple of years to work and accumulate funds.  On this matter she was quoted as saying, “Candidates should have some skin in the game, I wanted voters to know I was serious.”  Beyond the passion Blair blatantly exudes, she also embodies Weber’s qualification of having a sense of responsibility.  An 18-year-old girl takes it upon herself to be a civil servant and agrees to defer time from her expensive university education in order to do so.  The willingness to do this comes with a deep feeling of civil duty.  Blair is an icon.  She inspires political participation among America’s youth and that of the world at large.  In an era where the world is seeking a solution for apathetic and politically disengaged young people, a figure like Sara Blair serves as a refreshing reminder that young people can make waves under democratic governments and strive for accountability.  Blair is not the first young person to make waves by gracing public office, other youths in this country have taken on the onus of governance before her.  We have yet to see how Blair will govern once in office but we can assume she will abide by Weber’s final criterion of a good and ethical politician, a sense of proportion.  Why might we assume this?  Weber defines proportion as, “the ability to allow realities to impinge on you while maintaining an inner calm and composure” (77).  Throughout the election process, this is exactly what Blair has displayed.  Even amidst criticism, agism, and calls of question unto her character, Blair has kept a cool head and come out victorious.

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A picture of a former classmate of mine from high school who was extremely politically active and engaged in the democratic process despite her age. President Obama even invited her to take a humorous picture together. *Picture not linked to source because it was privately sent to me.*

Young people are not necessarily less involved in the political process than adults.  In fact, youths are more likely to engage in certain displays of political protest and advocacy even if they do tend to lag behind on the voting front.  It is my hope that with figureheads like Blair, who so acutely accentuate Weber’s idea of an honest and good politician, that my generation will be able to break away from the norms with regard to voting and political participation at large amongst youths.  I know I have tried to do my part as I have previously worked on multiple campaigns for state legislators

I’ll close out this post on a lighter note by highlighting the video that initially got me to become interested in the American political process.  Nickelodeon really nailed it with this one.

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3 thoughts on “A Good Politician, An American Youth

  1. I also really enjoy your post! I had recently read about Sara Blair and was really inspired by her election process. I think another interesting thing to note is her lack of funding. Compared to other candidates she had little money towards her campaign yet still won. People seem to think (which is usually true) that only the wealthy can win elections. Her campaign was mostly run via social media, which makes me wonder if this new type of technology will change the campaign dynamics and allow candidates with less financial backing to have a real shot at winning.

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  2. Awesome post and awesome story. Prior to reading this I must admit I had no knowledge of Blair, and this story really inspires me to think not only that I can make a difference politically but in any aspect of life at such a young age. As far as the connection to Weber, I think you make a strong case however I do not fully see it. Yes I agree that Blair is taking action into her own hands and showing her ethics of responsibility, but one of the key points Weber makes is that a politician must balance the ethics of responsibility versus the ethics of their own individual convictions. While your post was intriguing and inspiring, you did little to mention Blair’s struggle between those to concepts. This struggle was a key part of Weber’s work and I think you could have made a stronger argument if you had gone into more detail of Blair’s political philosophy. Overall though I did enjoy the post and it was definitely cool to see someone our age make that much of a difference!

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  3. I really like this post, and I think it is a statement that she was able to achieve in this in the face of decreasing voter turnout, especially among younger voters. We have become fairly apathetic as a nation in regards to events such as the midterm elections. I strongly agree that people like Blair are instrumental in helping to reverse this downward trend. In an era where the budgets for elections have skyrocketed, and oftentimes money plays a large role in determining the outcome of various elections, it is refreshing to see someone succeed without resorting to such measures.

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