Susan Bolle is a community organizer and the parent of Lucy Sogard ’13. Susan will be on the Marin Academy campus, registering voters, on October 2nd.
1. You ran two nonpartisan voter registrations for our community this year. How did it go?
It was inspiring to see the MA students so excited to register to vote. As a grassroots activist, I often come in contact with cynical, disgruntled adults, some who say they won’t vote. In contrast, these first-time voters had been anxiously waiting for this moment and they took it so seriously! To vote on November 6, you have to register by October 22. To register to vote, you just have to be a U.S. citizen, resident of CA, and 18 years old by November 6.
2. What else have you been involved with at Marin Academy?
Voter registration reminds me of the Conference on Democracy last October—the enthusiasm of Bill Meyer and the faculty team who organize it. I played a small part in getting the Miss Representation documentary shown here; women’s issues are important to me. It was so impressive to see the confidence the teachers had in the students leading the COD programs. The MA faculty is so extraordinary and committed to pushing the students to think and question on a very high level. I am so grateful to the faculty for helping our kids be informed citizens of the world. I have seen so many outstanding speakers, films, and programs here with such a sophisticated quality of discourse.
3. From your perspective as a parent, political thinker, activist, and citizen, what are the responsibilities for kids who have had an MA education?
Right now, our country really needs the participation of smart, compassionate citizens like those in the community at MA. We need a sea change in our system. I get to talk to voters of all ages, backgrounds, and from other states and I’m frustrated to see so few people really try to dig into the issues and learn the facts. How can our democracy function if no one is educated on the issues we face? So many people are angry or cynical or apathetic. Apathy is the enemy of our democracy. At a minimum, everyone should participate in elections. People are not taking their franchise to vote seriously enough.
I hope our students will use their MA education to affect change. Although the problems seem overwhelming, it is rewarding to just start with one issue that you are passionate about, focus on understanding that issue, and get involved with groups who support your viewpoint.
4. You said that some of your earliest political involvement was around the Vietnam War. Lots of people in that generation became disappointed and disillusioned. Why are you not that way?
My involvement in politics started when I was a teenager during the antiwar movement. While I am somewhat a cynical New Yorker, I am also an optimistic person. This is why I was involved then, and why I am involved now. We can turn this around but people cannot just expect someone else to do it. When we have privilege, we have a big responsibility. I like to remember FDR’s quote, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” His words are something that I carry with me.
5. It’s so easy to create rubber band bracelets for every cause. There is such a disparate focus about things. What do you think American youth should focus on?
They should just start with an issue they are passionate about, learn everything they can on it and bring their respectful, compassionate voices to the discourse. If I had to pick one issue to focus on it would be the Citizens United ruling which is doing grave damage to our democracy.