At the very beginning of my presentations to student audiences, I quickly recite (while displaying behind me) a list of things that I am besides “Author.”

Since spring 2017, here’s what one section of that list has looked like:

When I mention my boots, I’m talking in particular about two pairs of well-broken-in cowboy boots — one pair black leather, the other pair brown imitation leather — that I favor for all my school visits. They’re part of my work uniform, and they have been for years. At this point I’d feel weird not wearing them.

But I can certainly think of other things that would make me even more uncomfortable, one of them being a continuation of low turnout rates of voters in the United States, especially here in my home state of Texas.

Nonvoting is a serious problem in a democracy. It leads to laws that don’t reflect the will of the majority, something that’s especially been on my mind this past month or so.

I realize, though, that there’s something I can do to model for young people the value of the simple* act of casting a ballot.

So, starting this fall, I expect to make a change to that section of my introduction:

I hope the students I talk to will find that new identifier just as interesting as they do my dog, my love of music, and my ongoing efforts to learn Spanish. I hope it makes an impression on them — and on their teachers, too.

But you can bet that I’m going to keep my boots on.

* I’m well aware that it’s not always simple. That’s a deliberate result of much legislation, which itself is one of the results of low levels of citizen engagement in the electoral process.