Zach El Ghatit
Senior Zach El Ghatit knows that he wants to make a change in our country and wants to positively impact the people in it. Because of this, he decided to explore politics. “There are multiple ways you could impact people’s lives, but I think politics is the way I really want to do that,” said El Ghatit.
His interest in politics first started with the rise of Barack Obama. Although he was very young, he was interested in Obama’s first campaign in 2008 and started following politics closely with his dad. “My dad is really active in the political field, he really knows his stuff, he keeps himself updated, like a good civic voter should do. Even though he’s not in the field of politics, he’s in the loop, which I think everybody should strive for,” expressed El Ghatit.
“I have a whole family of educators, so there’s always been people in my family who were willing to help me and willing to help others,” explained El Ghatit. His mom and grandpa were both teachers, thus making him interested in pursuing a career that benefits others.
“Whatever level of politics you enter, where you start at, where you finish at, I think the goal is just to help people. My hope would be that I can spread my ideas, help America and help the people in our country,” said El Ghatit.
One of El Ghatit’s favorite experiences so far was going to Boys State, a summer leadership program for high school students designed to mock a state legislature experience; he participated last summer.
Held at Eastern Illinois University, Boys State divides participants (usually around 500 high school students) in groups referred to as cities. Each city elects officials and representatives. The participants also elect state officials and county officials. In the whole program, there are 24 cities, eight counties, and one state government.
“For my city, I was the mayor and for state, I was comptroller, and there are so many different things you can do and all these different roles you can run at for each level,” explained El Ghatit. “Boys State was amazing; it was one of the best weeks of my life.”
“You know so often we say that we live in the ‘Libertyville Bubble’ and we’re only exposed to suburban kids, and you go to Boys State and you meet people with graduating classes of like eight [students]. Everybody in my county, we still have a big group chat, so we all still talk, and it’s kind of cool to keep up with them,” expressed El Ghatit.
Before high school, El Ghatit wasn’t as interested in politics as he is now. He stayed informed about what was going on in the political world by reading articles and watching the news but didn’t follow too closely.
“I love debating politics with friends. My friends don’t really have similar views to mine, but I do love discussing [politics] with them because it opens you up to so many more viewpoints and so many different perspectives,” said El Ghatit.
El Ghatit advocates for furthering one’s knowledge of the political world in order to see other opinions.
“If it’s what you truly believe in, it’s definitely okay to be completely aligned with one side, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea to branch outside of your comfort zone and explore new ideas,” stated El Ghatit.
Inspired by a recent political experiment in Seattle, El Ghatit now advocates for campaign finance reform, the political effort in the United States to change the involvement of money in politics.
“I think campaign finance reform would be a really [good] thing if the country wants to take a big step towards fairness and more equitable elections,” proposed El Ghatit.
El Ghatit explained that since 2017, the city of Seattle has sent every registered voter four pieces of paper worth $25 each during the past election cycles. These pieces of paper, called Democracy Vouchers, can only be used for the sole purpose of donating to political campaigns.
“This would be really, really difficult to implement nationwide but I think this was kind of cool to see at a local level,” stated El Ghatit.
“Politics are the future. This country was founded on the basis that everybody has a say and a right to vote, and our elected leaders should represent us fairly,” said El Ghatit. “That’s why it’s really, really important to know your stuff, know who you’re voting for, know who you’re voting against. Most importantly, know [what] they stand for as a person and as a candidate.”