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  • The politician Henry Clay once said,

  • "Let him who elevates himself above humanity

  • say, if he pleases: 'I will never compromise',

  • but let no one who is not above the frailties

  • of our common nature disdain compromise."

  • Throughout the course of United States' history,

  • there have been many disagreements,

  • but I would like to focus on the great compromise of 1787,

  • which came after the American Revolution.

  • America had finally gained freedom

  • and become the only republic of the time.

  • And the issue was one of representation:

  • how would different states be represented?

  • And the conflicting sides

  • were the small states and the large states.

  • And this disagreement had the power

  • to rip our new found unity apart,

  • and yet, a few brave persons were able to come together

  • and forge, out of this disagreement,

  • a new, smarter, bolder and stronger system

  • that remains today.

  • But it seems now that this system

  • has come to a shuddering halt.

  • In 2012, Congress passed fewer than 80 bills,

  • the fewest since records began to be kept back in 1947.

  • And this is due to the polarization of political ideals.

  • Views are becoming more and more extreme

  • and it seems that the possibility of political compromise

  • has nearly been lost.

  • I'm sure you all have heard of the fiscal cliff deal,

  • which was the perfect opportunity for a grand deal

  • that could redefine United States' economic policy.

  • Congress had everything they needed.

  • They had a goal, a motivation, a deadline

  • and leaders on both sides of the aisle,

  • and yet, no such deal was reached.

  • While the issue of tax cuts was resolved,

  • the issue of spending cuts was simply pushed forward by two months.

  • 9/11 forever changed history

  • in just a couple of hours.

  • The Arab Spring erupted in days.

  • And yet, while the world seems to be growing faster, and faster, and faster,

  • it seems that Congress is growing slower, and slower, and slower.

  • This issue is especially applicable to our generation,

  • as we're the first generation to grow up

  • in this new, fast, digital information age.

  • And many of these problems of today

  • are being left as a legacy to us.

  • And the question is, what should we do about it?

  • Being politically active may not be a reality,

  • as we're constantly swamped by homework,

  • sports, dating, friends and parents.

  • So, the best thing that you can do

  • is to read the news

  • and to think about what you believe,

  • in terms of political ideals.

  • This is the time in our adolescent lives

  • when our brains begin to separate our views

  • from those of our parents,

  • and we begin to form new ideas of our own.

  • I'm not asking you to change your political party,

  • or even to change your own personal views

  • on individual issues.

  • I'm simply declaring that the best mind

  • for an active citizen is an open mind.

  • And the ideal politician

  • is one who both advocates for issues that matter to you

  • and can work with ideas from opposing parties.

  • There will never be a perfect system.

  • There's always meant to be conflict.

  • But our glorious democratic system

  • requires that we find a balance in ourselves

  • and in what we believe,

  • and then, through voting and political activism,

  • we can transfer this balance into the Houses of power

  • and we can begin rebuilding this great nation together.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

The politician Henry Clay once said,

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【TEDx】Learn from the Past, Form the Future: Nathaniel Carlsen at [email protected]

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