After watching this year's Democratic National Convention religiously all week this past week (while recovering from oral surgery), I thought about writing another article discussing the highlights of the convention along with some commentary like I did with the RNC last week. But after thinking about it, I thought I would just be attracting people to my article because they either completely agree with me, or because they completely disagree with me. So this is written for everyone regardless of party affiliation -- or lack thereof -- and regardless of how much you personally care about politics.
I read about politics a lot. I talk about politics a lot. I post about politics on Facebook a lot. I've had people unfriend me, unfollow me, etc., from social media. (And that's perfectly fine because everyone is allowed to control the content they want or don't want to see!) I know some people are annoyed by how much I discuss politics or they just don't understand why I even bother. The goal of these next few hundred words is to explain why.
When I was 16, I suffered some pretty severe depression after sustaining an injury to my left foot and this left me unable to dance (my favorite hobby, at the time) for almost a full year. Since I was 5-years-old, dance had not only kept me healthy and fit, but it had also been my niche -- I always identified as a dancer. But now, for the first time in my life, I could not do this, and coupled with body image issues, I slipped into a really dark time in my life right around when I turned 16.
It was really difficult, and for most of that summer I couldn't even be on my feet, but I was able to read. I was able to watch TV. I was able to become informed, and during that time I discovered the world of politics. Not only did learning take my mind off my injury and my inability to dance, but it also sparked a passion in me which I had never felt my entire life. And at 16, this is a big deal.
All my life growing up I had said I wanted to be a doctor or a race car driver but I had never felt this kind of desire or purpose before. When I was midway into my junior year of high school, I told my family I wanted to pursue politics for my career. Then and even now my family still questions why I want to pursue politics instead of becoming a doctor, pharmacist, engineer, when I had no difficulties with science or math in high school. But my dad always supported me, especially when I needed it most and I have him to thank for the ability to keep pursuing my dream. So politics is held very close to my heart and something that I take very personally, but there's also are very logical perspective on why I value politics so highly.
Regardless of your party affiliation, it is impossible to deny the crucial role our government -- at all levels -- plays in our daily lives. At a local level, school boards decide whether or not to employ more teachers or to lay them off -- crucial elements in the education of thousands of local children.
At a state level our state legislatures and our governors make important decisions about funding and taxes, which lead to people's careers and the income they can reinvest in their communities, not to mention create laws. At the federal level not only do our three branches of government (legislative, executive and judicial) handle matters of creating laws and deciding tax codes, but also appoint justices to the Supreme Court who determine whether or not laws are Constitutional and appoint employees to critical national security bureaucracies such as the FBI and the CIA.
For my free market capitalists out there, the president appoints the chairman to the Federal Reserve, an institution that has laid the groundwork for almost every major economic boom this country has seen since its formation in the early 20th century. And if all of this isn't enough for you, the federal government has control over our armed forces -- and those are people's lives. Whether you like it or not, all forms of government in the United States have an undeniable influence on our day to day lives. (And this is a good thing because, I don't know about you, but I don't want to live in anarchy.)
None of this even touches on the effects that international politics have on us citizens of the U.S. every day. Due to globalization, whether it's problems with the international economy, a new war or conflict or changes in a nation's policies affecting a natural resource or import it all comes down to this: we're all in this together.
So, yeah, I take politics itself very seriously.
But I also take everyone's views and opinions very seriously, and so should everyone else. I think it's very easy for all of us to think about a certain side or a certain party or a certain policy and just believe everything without thinking about the reality of those policies, or party or side. When someone says, "I'm voting for Donald Trump," it means that person is taking their one voice that we are granted as a U.S. citizen, and they are using that power they have to elect him. They are saying, "I believe in a world where Donald Trump is president." This same thought process can be applied to any candidate, issue, party or policy.
For myself, I hate everything Donald Trump stands for. I would hate to live in a world where he has that kind of power. The policy choices he would make. The appointees he would make to the Federal Reserve or the Supreme Court. When someone is voting for Donald Trump, this is the world they believe in. This terrifies me. I do not want to live in world where Donald Trump has that kind of power.
This same thought process can occur (and probably should) inside every person's head for any candidate, issue, policy, or party. This is the reality of our beliefs.
Because I recognize that beliefs eventually become reality, I see a person's political beliefs as a reflection of who they are, what their core values are, and what kind of world they want to live in. There are many psychological studies supporting this, like this Ted Talk. Some people may disagree with me, but this is the consequence of the reality of politics.
So when I talk politics with others, and when I see political posts shared by others on social media, I think of the implications on reality that those beliefs have. I think of the world that would exist where those beliefs are paramount. Of course, if I share in these beliefs, I'm thrilled. If these beliefs are different from my own, I'm terrified. And I should be. We all should be. Because it's very easy to sit behind a screen and quote some articles we skimmed on Fox News or the Huffington Post, but it's very different to be that parent/spouse/friend watching a loved one be sent off to war or to watch our job get outsourced or cut because of lack of funding. It's very different to quote some soundbite you heard on the news, than it is to lose your healthcare, or your personal freedoms or your loved ones to senseless violence.
This is the reality of our beliefs. And this is why I take politics so seriously.