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Caroline Bourque Headshot

JSA at the 2012 RNC

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Caroline is a member of the Junior State of America (JSA), a student-run political awareness organization for high school students.

"We Can Do Better!"
"We Built It!"
"We Can Change It!"
"We Believe in America!"

Each day of the recent Republican National Convention, these messages contributed to its overall theme of "A Better Future."

Despite the imminent threat of Hurricane Isaac in late August, thousands of supporters and several protesters flocked to Tampa to participate in the primary of what many consider the most significant election in American history. Among the dense crowds in Florida were high school students participating in a selective program hosted by Junior Statesmen of America (JSA). These young men and women were privileged to witness an important part of the United States' political process that most people are unable to experience.

This year at the RNC, the JSA program hosted speaker events that included:

• Texas Governor Rick Perry
• NRA President David Keene
• Republican Primary Candidate Newt Gingrich
• Special NBC News Correspondent Chelsea Clinton
• Political Operator Karl Rove

Additionally, participants of the program watched Chuck Todd enthusiastically interview Josh Romney, Michelle Rhee and George P. Bush. Only after the exciting morning and afternoon sessions with some of today's most influential Americans did students attend the convention. There, they were able to personally watch current leaders of the Republican Party state their best case for the upcoming presidential election. This year's roster included Ann Romney, Chris Christie, Condoleezza Rice, Marco Rubio, Clint Eastwood (and chair), Paul Ryan, and finally, Mitt Romney.

On the whole, students in JSA's program got a first-hand impression of the overwhelming excitement at the convention. More specifically, they watched as hundreds of Republican delegates from across the United States eagerly came together with one ultimate goal: to help promote the Republican platform and nominate their candidate for this year's presidential election. The atmosphere these students observed was undoubtedly unique and memorable, especially as a result of globally-renowned Texas pride, which was exemplified by Texan delegates who wore matching shirts and cowboy hats each day of the convention.

Although national political conventions face innumerable attacks by opposing parties, they are always a time when people can strengthen their sense of patriotism for the United States. As participants in the JSA program discovered, unification brought on by conventions like the RNC emphasizes the importance of following current issues and selecting a presidential candidate that will drive the country on its most successful path. Moreover, in the words of vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, the sense of togetherness points out that "whatever your political party... [you must] come together for the sake of our country;" after all, as Condoleezza Rice warned, "there is no country that can do more harm to us than we can do to ourselves."

For JSA members, this "harm" is disarmed by the knowledge they gain through active participation in the American political process.