On Oct. 30, in the Kathryn Mohrman Theater April Ryan — CNN political analyst and veteran White House Correspondent of 21 years — addressed Colorado College and reminded the community why voting matters.
The fourth speaker in CC’s Midterm Election Symposium, Ryan immediately captivated her audience with her energy; she stayed behind the podium for barely five minutes before leaving to walk around the stage instead. She was dynamic throughout her address, actively engaging with audience members and asking them questions.
Ryan shared how her parents took her to the polls for every election when she was growing up and how she has continued that tradition with her own children. However, she reiterated that voting is a privilege rather than a right guaranteed to every citizen.
“I think about the privilege of the right to vote,” Ryan said. “It’s not a given. In 2018, it is not a given.” “What’s happening in the state of Georgia, what’s happening in Texas, and God forbid, what’s happening in North Dakota in 2018.” Audience members murmured in agreement.
Ryan returned again and again to the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, repeating “We the People” throughout her speech, emphasizing her call for unity and her belief in its power.
“In the few hours and days we have left till the midterms, we still are ‘We the People’ and the vote is so critical,” Ryan said. “It’s part of the tool box … to make your voice heard,” Ryan said. “We have a responsibility to participate in this magnificent process … [and] we’re still forming a more perfect union.”
As seen above, rather than focus on the president or the current administration, Ryan focused on the upcoming midterm elections and the potential for future change.
“What she emphasized wasn’t really about the president or the parties,” Tselate Dawit ’19, one of the talk’s attendees, said. “It’s about you and why you should vote.”
This message resonated strongly with audience members, many of whom were pleased to share that they had already voted through Colorado’s mail-in ballot system when Ryan asked who was going to the polls on Tuesday.
Despite what could have easily been a discouraging talk, Ryan maintained hope and possibility throughout the evening.
“This great nation — yeah, I said the word great — leads the world,” Ryan said, upon seeing some audience members’ skepticism. “[But] it takes each and every one of you to make a difference, to right the ship.”
To conclude her speech, Ryan ventured outside the scope of voting and asked audience members “how are you going to serve?” — a question and sentiment audience members found quite powerful.
“My biggest takeaway is to not only realize your own potential to have an impact through voting but also to have an impact in other ways.” Ana Kilgore ’21 said. “We can use our voice through voting — and we should — but there’s also these limitless other ways we can express our political beliefs and … we should encourage all of our friends … to do the same.”
At the end of the night though, Ryan’s message couldn’t be clearer: “I don’t care who you vote for; just vote … voting does matter … [and] every vote counts.”