DELMAR — Griffin Roeder and Henry Reichman are not old enough to vote, but they’re as active of a citizen as they come.
The junior and sophomore, respectively, have been interested in politics for years. While the duo is very different thinkers, the Bethlehem Central High School students use their collective knowledge and educated dialogue to broadcast “Generation Elect,” a political podcast by kids, for kids.
“I think the reason why we work so well together is because we have such different interests,” Roeder said. “I tend to be very election focused, where Henry is so educated on things like the Mueller report and different investigations into the current administration.”
Reichman started the podcast in 2018, about three years after he discovered a love for politics. Soon after, Roeder and Reichman met and joined forces. Before joining the podcast soon after its birth, Roeder was already a fan. Roeder and Reichman include other friends, including Jack Newell, frequently on the show. Episodes range from analysis on the current administration to comprehensive breakdowns on candidates, to overall conversation about the importance of being involved in our democracy. The men also have experts weigh in; recently, Reichman interviewed Richard Born, a professor at Vassar College, and Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Harvard University.
“I think the amazing thing about the podcast is it shows how our opinions on different things evolve and our ability to use facts to support that change,” Reichman said. “We will think someone is a sure-fire win and suddenly things will change and we will sit down and discuss how it happened.”
In “Generation Elect”’s history, the podcast has garnered over 3,000 plays.
Roeder and Reichman find themselves pitching it to their classes and friends; Roeder was getting ready to pitch to his AP psychology class the day after this interview.
Roeder and Reichman also find it critical to stress the importance of voting down the ballot. While the recent federal election had citizens flocking to the polls in droves, many voters neglect to research the candidates that are running in local elections, like representatives, senators or town board members. Rarely does one see a ballot where one issue is being voted on; even with school board elections, there are usually purchases or resolutions at the bottom or on the back of the ballot. Because these races are much closer to home, Reichman said these elections affect each voter on a much closer basis than that of the president. Right now, the boys are keeping an eye on Susan Collins and the Georgia runoffs.
“Our main thing is we encourage people to stay engaged with the places they get their news from,” Reichman said. Roeder agreed, adding the key to diving into the political world is keeping an open mind and learning as much as you can about both ideologies and the places you read from. Even fringe movements, Roeder said, are worth exploring because they give context to a broader picture and allow a person to create a more well-rounded opinion. However, it’s also important to discern motives from elected officials and the media.
“We can’t live in an echo chamber because that’s not how our democracy works,” Reichman concluded. “We have to encourage dialogue and be able to see the good points on both sides. It’s about what’s best for as many people as possible.”
To listen to “Generation Elect,” visit Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.