Truth is, there are a lot of people out there who wonder why anyone decides to be a political science major. For one, most people don’t care for politics. It is practically a commonly known commandment to not bring up politics at work, at family reunions, on a first date, at practice… the list goes on. Why? Because it is one of the fastest ways to kill a buzz, poop on a party and get someone to not like you. Secondly, people wonder what kind of job you want out of a political science degree. They just suppose you want to “get into politics,” and might even assume you have started campaigning to run for an office someday. Most of the time, this is not the case.
Honestly, I sometimes ask these questions too and I am a political science major. Furthermore, I have asked more and more of these questions as I have progressed through my education. Political science isn’t like math, biology, chemistry, psychology or any other kind of science. There isn’t a definite method, theory, equation or set of rules you memorize and take tests over. No calculator or answer key exists to see if you’re right or not. The only answer that is never wrong is “it depends.” One might think that this may be appealing sense there is no wrong answer. While there might not be a wrong and a right in political science, there is always a left and right.
Although there is no wrong and right, political science has a way of attracting people who thrive off of believing they are right all the time and are power hungry. Here, I mean “being right,” as exasperating confidence that one is immune to ever being incorrect, not the political right. When you mix this with touchy, heated topics such as morals, religion, money, racism, culture, justice, family life and tradition, the level of tension inside the classroom goes from 0-100 real fast. Some people leave all their manners and lessons they learned on behavior in kindergarten at the door. There are verbal denouncing and damnation for those who may disagree with the student in the class who is “the most passionate.” Everything seems contradictory because you’re learning how to argue logically, compromise and observe the arguments from the opposition.
There are many circumstances where you leave class feeling angry and frustrated. It’s easy to become apathetic and arrive at the conclusion: people are crazy. Despite all this, at the end of the day, you remind yourself why you got yourself into this. Most political science majors (besides the handful who just love the sound of their voice) all genuinely want to help people. They want to make the world a better place; they just have sharp differences on how that is done and what that looks like.
Some people, like me, also wind up in this major because you get to talk about some pretty inspiring topics like freedom, republics, revolutions, human victories and admirable leadership. This might sound a lot like history but it’s different. In political science, you look at the past and you get to apply it to the future. You get to dive into the minds of the Founding Fathers and have a developed sense of liberty. You appreciate and see the genius behind some aspects of our government that too many take for granted; such as, the Constitution, checks, and balances and the different branches. Lastly, being in this field really teaches you how to respect people when you really might not want to. Whether it’s a professor who does not remain unbiased or a peer who has a toxic attitude, you learn how to work with them despite your differences. That’s a tenet of political science that is often forgotten by too many politicians.