In my senior year of high school I took AP U.S. Government. This was a shocking move for me as I've never been a big fan of politics. In fact, I used to get seriously annoyed when people in my family would debate over anything even vaguely political. This was one of the best decisions I made during my senior year. I learned so much about our government and the people that run it. My teacher was great as well. Often during class debates and such, my peers would ask him about his political views. He always declined to respond, which I believe is very important when being an educator. Political views of either side, when they are those of an educator, do not belong in the classroom.
One of the lessons I learned in AP is that parents often play a big role in shaping the views of their children. This was reflected in my childhood as well. I remember when I was younger, I had certain feelings attached to the word Democrat or Republican. I remember distinctly as a small child getting a bad taste in my mouth when I heard the word Republican. Later, as my parents political views changed, this same bad taste came at the word Democrat. In the end, I realized I had no understanding for either of these parties; all I knew is what my parents believed.
A few months ago, in September or October, I went to my town office and registered to vote. I remember all of my friends asking me how I was going to register. Since most of my friends are primarily Republican, it was no question what they were going to register as. I felt comfortable though, telling them that it didn't feel right to commit to either side. I understand the importance of political parties; they allow those with similar beliefs to rally around each other and fight for common goals. At the same time, I believe registering as either a Republican or a Democrat can be limiting. For a society that cares so much about breaking out of boxes, people seem to work so hard to push themselves into one when it comes to politics.
I'm registered as an independent because I'm pro-choice for others, but pro-life for myself. I'm registered as an independent because I'm pro-immigration, but against laws protecting illegal immigrants. I'm registered as an independent because I disagree with the Women's March, but agree with gender neutral bathrooms. I'm registered as an independent because I refuse to put myself in a box.