Lachlan Smith was one of three Berean High School students to attend an unprecedented California Boy’s State experience this summer. Traditionally, Boy’s State is hosted at Sacramento State University and the agenda includes a tour of the capital. But this year, Smith participated in the mock government event from underneath his loft bed.
Smith, along with fellow BCHS seniors, CJ Montoya and Jack Winston attended six straight days of online meetings. They began each day at 8:30 a.m. and continued late into the evening, sometimes until ten or eleven at night.
“There was just a lot to do,” says Smith.
After canceling last year’s event due to COVID, the boy’s State organization built a website specifically to give this year’s students an incredible online experience. There were seminars on public speaking, how to run for public office, and various other courses that might benefit young aspiring public servants. But let’s not forget about the politics!
Before the week started, everyone was assigned to a party – Wigs or Federalists. Also, everyone was given $1,000 of fake money to spend as they wished when the political games began.
“You could donate money to your town or your party, or spend it on your own election campaign,” Smith says.
Smith won a seat on the elections committee – an office that typically attracts little, if any attention. This year, however, the election committee took on greater significance and prestige as the mock government games seemed to reflect real life.
According to Smith, the online format did nothing to dampen the customary outbreaks of corruption and political shenanigans.
“The mayor of my town put forward an initiative to legalize recreational nukes,” says Smith. “We tried to impeach him.”
Yes, impeachment trials were all the rage at California’s 2021 Boy’s State. By the end of the week everyone was trying to impeach the sitting governor. He was accused of fostering a toxic work environment.
“It seems pretty common since the runner-up tends to be bitter about losing the election,” Smith mused.
And there were lawsuits, plenty of them. Smith recalled someone filing suit against a fellow participant after he killed a fly on camera. Of course, you can’t have lawsuits without lawyers and judges. The mock government universe created by Boy’s State included a judiciary system comprised of supreme courts, county courts, and municipal courts. You could even get called out to serve on jury duty!
Smith says that to be a lawyer, participants had to pass a bar exam. “These positions were very competitive,” he says.
The city of Drake invented a city anthem based on music from the popular hip-hop artist who shares their name. They were sued for copyright violations.
“It was controlled chaos,” says Smith.
In spite of the controlled chaos that he observed in mock government, Smith left the week with a deeper appreciation for the political arena and the men and women who dare to enter it.
“I have more sympathy for government leaders,” he says. “It’s so easy for us to point fingers at them, but it’s much harder than it looks. It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there.”
If Lachlan Smith, or any of this year’s Boy’s State participants have an itch to get back into the melee of political horseplay they experienced this summer, well, they have only to read tomorrow’s political headlines.