Understanding The Politics Behind Politics
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Politics and Activism

Understanding The Politics Behind Politics

Why you really should have an opinion about politics and the world around you.

Understanding The Politics Behind Politics
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"I'm not going to vote because it's not going to make a difference."

"Everyone in this election cycle sucks. America is screwed."

"I don't understand politics. They don't mean anything to me."

I'm going to be completely honest. Politics can be annoying sometimes. There are so many opinions flying around, yet how many are based on truth? There are so many egocentric people involved, refusing to see the other side of things. I understand why so many people avoid politics. Not only can it be confusing, it is kind of scary. The idea that those people have the power to protect or destroy the place in which you live is enough to make anyone want to utter a prayer. I'm not condemning you for your fear, nor your annoyance. However, those are the very reasons why you should be involved. You need to have an opinion about current events and have a basic understanding as to why certain things are the way that they are. I'm not saying that you need to become a politician, but the first and only way to make a change is to educate yourself on the issue. Nothing irks me more than people completely dismissing what is happening in our world today as if it has no impact on their lives. I did some brainstorming and asked around to hear some reasons as to why people are informed in politics. Here are some of their responses.

1. If I'm not involved in the process, I have no right to complain about the outcome.

This is the most common response I heard, hence why I put it first. It is so important! In America, you have the right; the privilege to make your voice heard. When bills are being signed into law on Capital Hill, know that it didn't get there without the influence of common people just like you. We all get a say in who we want to have as our next president of the United States, yet the number of people actually participating is far, far less than it should be. Why wouldn't you want to try to make a difference? All I'm going to say on this one is if you have the opportunity to make a difference in an outcome, take it. Otherwise, you have absolutely no right to complain about the system. Be the change you want to see.

2. Having the facts to back up my beliefs.

Many people follow their parents or other influential people's political beliefs because they don't care to know about the details backing up those beliefs. When you actually take the time to learn why things are the way they are, you can take a stand on an issue with both facts and emotion, instead of just emotion. As a communication major and a writer, I know the importance of emotion and passion when presenting an issue, but without substantial facts, they are useless. When I feel my beliefs are being put into question, I am able to stand up for myself and others who feel the same way because I am educated on the topic. My passion and emotion offer a cushion for the facts to fall onto.

3. Cutting through the rhetoric.

(S/O to Cody Woodruff for this eye-catching header.) There's no denying that this election cycle has been heavily influenced by the media. Between a TV star as the Republican nominee and a liar as the Democratic nominee, it almost feels as if I'm watching the most dramatic reality show to ever grace the eyes of TV watchers everywhere. It's hard to pull the truth out of the rhetoric, especially if your news is coming from heavily influenced source. When you are educated, even a little, about the going-on's of the political world, the truth becomes easier to see. You are actually able to find the facts buried underneath all of the opinions so commonly found in the news. If you need an example of how opinionated the news is, watch a Fox and CNN clip covering the same topic. Even the slightest difference in word choice can have an instrumental effect on the overall message they are trying to portray. This is especially prevalent on social media. I'll admit, I'm guilty of sharing a story or tweet without fully understanding the whole story. It is extremely important to understand what is actually the truth, because if we don't we are just adding flames to the fire.

4. We are incredibly fortunate to be here. Why wouldn't I take advantage of the freedom I have?

As a woman, if I were to live in a number of other countries, the odds of me writing this article would be pretty high against me. I would be suppressed by a patriarchal, tyrannical government who would tell me that I wasn't worthy to have the same rights as men. I wouldn't have been given the opportunity to write freely, much less have been allowed to attend school. I wouldn't be allowed to drive a car or have a job. The freedom I have in America is beyond compare. I believe that people all around the world yearn for some kind of freedom. As a citizen of a country allowing such freedom, I should be setting an example to others. I have been given the gift to actively participate.

5. By understanding the politics behind issues, I am more open-minded to others opinions.

Get me started on a topic of passion and I can talk on it for hours, just ask my friends! (Sorry for boring you with the facts of issues you probably didn't care about!) But because I understand the politics behind the issues, I am able to see things from both perspectives. We've all been approached by a radical opinion that refuses to acknowledge that their way might not be the best way. When issues arise where I am confronted by a challenging view, I am able to have a mature discussion instead of bashing the other person's belief. After all, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I absolutely do not want to be the one to try to take that away from someone.

Moments of passion are good, but when they are putting the beliefs of others down, there is a problem. This is probably one of the biggest reasons people avoid politics. They don't want to have to feel guilty about the positions they take. They don't want to be told that they are wrong. It is important to be understanding of why people believe what they believe and to acknowledge that there's not always a "one size fits all" approach to politics. That's what's so great about American politics. People are allowed to have differing opinions.

6. History can and will repeat itself.

On my first day of senior year, my government teacher introduced the class with a slideshow about past mistakes in history that eventually happened again because people never took the time to learn from those mistakes. He told us that his love of history stemmed from these examples. "I don't want to be responsible for future mistakes simply because I refuse to understand past mistakes. If I have the power to prevent something from happening simply by education, you can bet that I will take every step necessary."

7. I am the future. The choices I am making today are going to affect future generations.

Let's assume that Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks had believed that they, like many today, wouldn't be heard. If they had believed that they couldn't make a change, I don't even want to think about the prejudice that would still be on the streets and in the world. Please, don't assume that just because you are one person that you can't make a difference. It's not uncommon to find me writing a letter or two to my congressmen and other people of influence or signing petitions for issues I care deeply about. In fact, I sent a letter to a congressman of the opposite party of my own and he sent me a birthday card in the mail after the fact. The actions I am taking now will eventually produce an outcome. Years down the road, when I have a family and am seeing the outcomes of my actions, I will be proud to tell my children and family that that happened because I took a stand and believed that one voice in a crowd of millions could make a difference.

Yes, politics can be scary. Yes, politics can be annoying and a variety of other expressive adjectives I will leave to your imagination, but it doesn't have to be. You see, it is important to understand the politics behind politics because somehow, it all will catch up to you. Every bill that is signed into law, every person that is running for any kind of office, will affect you, even if you don't experience that effect firsthand. You don't have to be a politician or a political geek to keep up to date with what is going on. I do, however, believe that it is a civic responsibility to have a general knowledge of these things, because they will influence every action you make.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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