Alex P. Keaton, that cute-as-a-button teenage conservative played by Michael J. Fox in the Reagan-era sitcom Family Ties, has nothing on Stormville resident Nick D’Angelo — Keaton never wrote a book in high school. In May 2007, D’Angelo, now a junior at Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx, used a Web site to self-publish America According to a 15-Year-Old, a political treatise in which he espouses his right-of-center views on topics like the war on terror and illegal immigration. Here, the young pundit comments on this month’s presidential election, his generation’s attitude toward voting, and being a published author at 15.
How did you first become interested in politics?
A lot of people have things they just get drawn to, whether it’s playing guitar, or skateboarding, or music. Politics started for me, I guess, in religion class freshman year. We’d write these essays on the Bible, and I started to link the essays to what was actually happening in our world around us. One of the essays I wrote was “Al Gore and the Other False Prophets” (laughs). After writing about it, and seeing I was keeping updated with current events, I started to become really interested in what was happening.
Why did you decide to write this book?
It wasn’t something I just thought of, like, “I think I’m going to write a book, and it will take this long to write it.” I started writing these essays in my classes, and I thought I should type them up and keep track of them. Two pages turned into 30 pages, 30 into 100 pages. I had 150 pages and I said, “I have all this, it’s organized — let’s bring it together and publish it.”
What sort of reaction do you get from people when you tell them you’ve written a book about politics?
Like a wow, or a gasp, kind of. And then I’ll tell them that I’m a Republican, and they can’t believe there’s a Republican under the age of 40. But yeah, nobody expects it. And they shouldn’t really. What 16-year-old in their right mind comes out and writes a book?
Has anyone from school read your book?
Oh yeah. It’s around here a lot. My friends read it. One of my friends actually read it over and helped me edit it, because I’m awful at that. I can write it down; I just can’t get it to make sense. The teachers, too. And we’ll argue about it in class — a lot of the teachers are more liberally prone that I am, certainly, and it makes for a lot of interesting discussions. (Laughs.)
It’s pretty obvious you’re a McCain supporter. Why do you think he’d make a good president?
I have supported John McCain since he announced in February 2007 for two reasons. One is that he has an incredible amount of experience: military experience, legislative experience, executive experience. All of it you need to be president. I’m big about experience and I don’t think you can do a job without it. The second reason is he is one of the most bipartisan workers in Congress. As I’ve constantly said, and I think it’s in the book, too: it’s time to stop breaking fingers and to start shaking hands, to work together to achieve things.
Young people are sometimes seen as apathetic or uninterested in politics. Do you think that’s true?
Especially in this election, we’ve seen Barack Obama exciting young voters and more people turning out. But, especially 18-year-olds and a little older, they don’t know exactly what they’re voting for. They get obsessed with this whole idea of the candidate more than the issues and the party, and what’s actually going to happen once the person’s in office. And they’re not interested in politics, mostly because people don’t think they have a say. In my own experience, politicians don’t want to waste their time, most of the time, with teenagers.
Do you think 18 is the right minimum age to vote?
I think 18 is a good age to vote. It definitely shouldn’t be lower. I think you have too many other things going on before that age to take it really seriously. Once you turn 18, if you’re not committed to voting then and taking the responsibility seriously, you’re not going to take it seriously whether you’re 18 or 40.
I’ve got to ask — do you see a future for yourself in politics someday?
I hope so. That’s definitely what I’d like to go into. It depends, though. You have the name D’Angelo, that doesn’t exactly scream politician. But yeah, of course I’ve thought about it, and I hope to do something with it, but I don’t know. I’d like to finish high school first.
You can purchase print or digital versions of D’Angelo’s book at http://stores.lulu.com/dangelon