Youth in the Administration
A Youth Panel Speech Given at The Natural Law/Reform Party Coalition Convention

by Trace Shapiro-Hoffine

One of the many inspiring speeches given at the NLP National Convention was given by six young people, ages 15 to 29. Hagelin and Goldhaber stated that they really value the insight and clarity of vision that young people offer. Furthermore, that they plan to hire some of these young people in their administration. To give you a taste of the amazing insight and inspiration offered at the convention, we have the following, a speech by 29-year-old.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said that "a mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions." It's true. (I have the stretch marks to prove it!)

My name is Trace Shapiro-Hoffine. I just turned 29. I am a mother of two beautiful young girls.

And I need to make a public confession:

I stand before you as one of the 115 million eligible voters who did not exercise their right to vote in the last election. I am one of the 27 million students who did not vote. Yes… I confess… I am a political statistic.

So… what am I doing here? Why am I standing on the stage of the NLP national convention, on national television? Well…

I finally have a reason to VOTE!

I'm an educated individual: I have my B.A. from Sarah Lawrence in Human Biology, with an emphasis on psychoneuroimmunology, stress physiology, and cancer prevention. I have my Masters from Stanford University in Health Psychology Education, and I am currently working to complete my Ph.D. in Nutrition, and yet, stepping into a ballot booth and pulling a lever never seemed like it would make that much of a difference.

I have always chosen to exercise my citizen-democracy on a community level—using my hard-earned dollar as my “vote”… buying my books through independent bookstores, buying my food through local organic farmers, buying my clothes from responsible clothiers, working to change the world one mind at a time. These have been my quiet, everyday politics… trying to live my life congruent with my beliefs.

But… something happened in my independent revolution to save the world….

On March 2nd of this year, I heard Dr. John Hagelin speak at a Reform Debate in Kansas City, MO. He spoke of forward-looking, commonsense, prevention-oriented, scientifically proven solutions to our nation's problems. He systematically addressed each and every one of my concerns about: the environment, education reform, preventative health care, genetically engineered food, campaign finance reform, crime prevention, revitalization of inner cities, foreign policy, and more and more.

My jaw dropped.

Where has this guy been?!?! Why would such a brilliant man—a Harvard-trained quantum physicist---want to run for political office? I had to listen closer… to the point of almost falling off my chair!

Everything he said thoroughly reverberated through my mind and into my heart—stretched my reality to include a future I could live for.

I haven't been the same since.

Thank you, John Hagelin. For giving me hope.

Since I've been old enough to read the news, I have been burdened with visions of a future filled with: water unsafe to drink, food unfit to eat, streets unsafe to walk down… terrorism on personal, international, and environmental levels... A future blackened by corporate America's lust for the almighty dollar, leaving the children of America, and of this world to wallow in the squalor of its wake. Just as an example: In a 1998 New York Times article on genetically engineered foods by Michael Pollan called “Playing God in the Garden” Monsanto’s director of Corporate Relations is quoted: “ Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible.” Their short-sightedness astounds me.

In contrast, Native American Seneca Elders, before making any decisions that would effect the whole tribe, ask two questions: (1) would the elders of the previous seven generations have made this decision? And (2) will the seven generations to come be able to live with our decision. What an incredible precedent for decision-making! Finally, through the Natural Law Party, we have the voice of leadership that keeps the future of our children, and our children’s children in mind….

Now... for the first time in my life, I can actually glimpse a glimmer of a realistic future where things are right in the world. A future where we live in harmony with Natural Law not in constant violation of it. A future where we honor our earth, through protection of our air, water and soil, through sustainable organic agriculture, and the harnessing of natural, renewable resources like wind, solar, and biomass! A future where we honor (and actualize) the creative potential of our children (and all Americans), through scientifically proven, innovative curriculums. A future where doctors actually help keep people healthy, through health promotion education and preventative medicine. A future where we honor ourselves, and our neighbors, all races, all religions, all ages, all social and economic backgrounds.

Educating and empowering individuals and communities from the inside-out… Creating a government and a nation of self-governing individuals who naturally want to make right choices for themselves and for the future of our children.

I just think… if all this glorious vision is good enough for the future....

Why wait? This is the millenium, isn't it?

This vision is good enough for RIGHT NOW!

And then there’s the voice of “Reason”: “He’ll never win. A vote for a third party is a wasted vote. Why are you putting so much time and energy into a losing cause?”

We all know that gnatty voice. It’s the same one that buzzes in your ear: “You can’t make a difference. You’re nobody. You’ll never do great and meaningful things with your life.” And as it hisses, you catch it in your site and <SWAK!>…

Thomas Jefferson once said, "The price of freedom is ever constant vigilance."

Who? Me? Vigilant? No wonder my government has sold my rights to the highest bidders. I was nearly drowning in political apathy!

Now… I’ve had a taste of fresh air.

The Natural Law Party was designed for US! For all of the disgruntled teens. For all of us twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, fifty-, sixty-, ninety-somethings! For mothers, fathers, (even children of mothers and fathers) This is OUR future we’re talking about. We look to the left. We look to the right. And then we realize. WE are the ones we are looking for to make the future happen. This is not the time to sit back and wait for an outcome that’s sure to disappoint us. We need to step up and grab hold of our future with both hands. And hang in for the long haul…

Do you know why it’s called “grassroots” politics? Have you ever tried to pull up grass from your garden beds? The roots are so tightly networked and crisscrossed, they form a strong and ever-pervasive force of nature! WE are the roots, shoots, leaves and fruits of this party. WE, the people, control the destiny of this party and it’s up to US to make our future happen.

Tell ten of your friends. Tell twenty. Stretch yourselves: tell everyone you meet! Get on the campuses, spread the word. Get students registered to vote before its too late, drag the league of women voters with you to register folks. Believe me, they’ll kick themselves when they get all inspired and find it takes 30 to 60 days in some states to get a voter-registration card.

Send out a hundred emails… a thousand! Direct everyone to the Hagelin and Natural Law Party websites.

I’ve done the math. 115 million voters who didn’t vote… 27 million students. And they’ve all graduated by now, so there’s 27 million more! That’s 54 million votes—almost twice as many as put Clinton into office last time. We could win on the student vote alone!!!! I stand before you, as proof that this can happen. We finally have a Reason To Vote!

Thank you!

(Trace Shapiro-Hoffine lives in Kansas City with her husband and two beautiful young girls. She is the former feature editor of the Evolving Woman Magazine and is now the Executive Director of the Real Women Project. Also see her insightful and inspiring article, "Nature Has a Way" on the next page. Please contact her via email at and visit her website at