Why High Schooler Daisy Confoy Called Out Her Congressman

Bustle/Melora Armstead

This moment in America has created a wave of citizen engagement with politics. In no way has that become more clear than in the overheated town hall events where politicians have met with their often angry constituents and been forced to account for some of their more unpopular policies. Thousands of ordinary Americans have confronted Republicans about the American Health Care Act, which passed the House earlier this month.

One of those Americans, 17-year-old Daisy Confoy, spoke out at the town hall of Rep. Tom MacArthur in New Jersey. MacArthur, normally a moderate in the House, has been the subject of harsh criticism in his home state for authoring the amendment affecting guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions, which convinced the most hardline Republicans to help get the bill through the House. And Confoy came with her friends to ask him about it.

Daisy's question, about whether rape would be considered a preexisting condition under the American Health Care Act (it wouldn't, though many complications of sexual assault could lead to higher costs for survivors), got national attention after the congressman had trouble giving a straight and simple answer.

Bustle's politics editor, Emily Shire, talked to Confoy Tuesday about her moment in the spotlight and the issues she cares about on Facebook Live.

"The most important thing for me was that this guy was representing us," Confoy tells Bustle. "I knew that in this blue state — New Jersey — nobody really asked for that. Across the country, the majority didn't want this bill. So when I heard that it would be harder for Americans to gain coverage, it would be harder for them to afford it, I thought I'd stand up and say something."

There's a way to get involved wherever you are.

Confoy is still too young to vote, but she and her friends see this moment as just the beginning of what could be a life full of intense political activism. "It was kind of hard to watch all this happen and not even be able to vote, so I think that's part of why I became so active," Confoy says. "I tried to see what I could do as a 17-year-old and try not to let things go, even though I can't legally become part of the process."

As she heads to college and the real world, Confoy says she's considering a career in politics and activism. And she hopes that she can find a presidential candidate in 2020 who is able to tackle the issues that matter to her and her generation, like income inequality, affordable college, and the right to abortion,

"There's a way to get involved wherever you are," Confoy says. "Even if you can't get out there and do things, you can educate yourself and know who you're voting for and know which issues are important to you. Because I think that's the first step, knowing the most you can. And then you can get active if it works for you."