I Need To Keep Up With Politics So I Can Get More Comfortable Voting

I Need To Keep Up With Politics So I Can Get More Comfortable Voting

"I need to step up to the plate and keep up with politics."
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I will be completely honest: I never voted in an election since the day I turned 18. To be honest, I didn't think it was a big deal. Now that I am 23 and have grown to be wiser, I have to say that I now regret not voting in the past election, in which Donald Trump was elected our President.

Voting causes me huge anxiety to tell the truth but I also did not vote because I barely keep up with politics. I had no idea what Hilary Clinton had to offer or Trump because I just honestly did not care. I was worried about myself and not the fate of this country. I do not think I am selfish. I had a lot of stuff going on mentally, emotionally, and physically; voting was the last thing on my mind. However, seeing what has come about this past year with Trump as our President, I wish I had voted.

I will be honest again and say that I do not know a whole lot of what Trump has done so far. However, I have improved a little bit on trying to keep up on politics with the help of research, the television news, and the newspaper. It can be obvious that these news outlets have helped me and I am sure many others learn about what he has been doing, as their purposes are to expose news about the world.

I heard something about a wall Trump wants to put up in regard to immigration, which I thought was a bit odd. I viewed political cartoons about how he thinks climate change is a hoax. I also read about the transgender ban in the military occurrence which did startle me a bit. I recently just read something briefly in relation to a tax reform which has everyone running to get their taxes done before 2018. Overall, I need to read more and learn more about the issues/occurrences that have happened since Trump became President.

Perhaps my vote could have had an impact on the country. And I know I totally sound like an air-head right now because like I said, I barely know anything political going on in the world. But my goal is to try and keep up more with what is happening in the United States because now I realize that it does affect me. Whoever becomes President affects what happens to the citizens of the United States, which will affect me.

I know this article is short, but I do not know how I could possibly go into depth about the occurrences, because like I have repeatedly said, I barely know enough information about them. However, I am willing to learn.

I hope I gain the courage to vote in the next election and realize that my vote does have an impact. Most importantly for myself, I hope to keep up more with what is happening to our country, as it not only affects my life but all of the lives in America.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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You're Not Too Smart To Be A Teacher

What, do they want dumb people teaching their kids?

Elli
Elli
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One of the most common and paradoxical things I've been told about my plans for the future is "Oh, but you're too smart to be a teacher!" The people who say it always mean well (it's generally my friends, or family, or other teachers), but it's always hurt just a little bit. It's as if I'm being told, "You're wasting your potential," or, "You should be doing more," or, "Being a teacher is not enough."

Why, though? Isn't teaching one of the most idealistic careers? Teachers have the ability to change the world for their students. Good teachers can inspire a love of learning in their class that can last a lifetime. For every genius that history remembers in science or art or mathematics or writing or anything else, I can guarantee that there are a couple of very good teachers in the shadows.

So why this stigma about smart people going into education? Is it not enough to inspire the next generation, give them the tools to reach greatness? Where is the line for how smart is too smart? Does every smart person need to go find the cure for cancer, or translate ancient books, or become president? What if all I want to do is teach children? Is that so much of a crime?

The problem isn't that I'm too smart for teaching. In fact, if I press people about this question, and ask if they're implying teachers should be dumb, they tend to backpedal and say that of course teachers should be smart because children can't learn if the person teaching them doesn't know what they're talking about. The problem is that I am too smart to be a teacher, personally, because I could be far more successful somewhere else.

The thing is, a lot of this stigma is a very well-meant "I don't think you'll be very successful as a teacher." Your friends and family tell you this because they want you to be able to support yourself. Your teachers tell you this because they know it's at times a really difficult job that doesn't pay well. Sure, if you're in life for the money, teaching may not be very rewarding for you. Everyone knows that a teacher's salary is pretty low. Financially successful people aren't teachers. However, they are lawyers. They are politicians. They are scientists and artists and doctors and anyone else who is really good at something and focused on it in their career. Smart people can make good money, and often that's at the heart of your friends and family's well-meaning doubts.

So there's the problem. Teachers can't be successful, can they? This is less about the impacting the world and more about impacting yourself. Your family is worried about you, that you won't be able to get by (which, if we're being honest, isn't TOO much of a concern, if you're savvy with money). They think that you could be more successful doing something else.

I'd like to challenge this idea that the only way you can be successful in life is to have a six-figure paycheck.

You see, success today generally means having money, fame, power, a nice house, a good car, no debt, etc. More generally, though, success is just the accomplishment of your goals. So what success is to you is really based on what your goals are in life. If your goals are to get as much money as you can, then they're right: you will not get success as a teacher. But if your goals are to impact the world, inspire the next generation, and create change, then there are few other careers where you can succeed quite so meaningfully.

In today's world, controlled by greed and money, we need smart teachers. We need smart people who feel a passion for something other than money. We need smart people who want to help others and recognize that one of the best ways to do that is to give the next generation the tools it needs to make a better world. We need people who look at this world's definition of success and reject it, people who decide to make their own definition.

I am smart, and I want to be a teacher. I am smart, and I want to use that to help others. My definition of success is being a light in the lives of my future students, giving them a love of learning and a safe environment in which to learn. My dream is to change the world by inspiring others and giving them the tools they need to make the world a better place. My goal is to give the next generation a chance to do amazing things.

I challenge you to make your own definition of success. At the end of the day, this is only my definition of success. What matters is that you can answer this question: what's yours?

Elli
Elli

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