Politics (viewpoint of a 20-something-year-old)
Politics, by definition, means, “The activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.” For me, though, the meaning also considers how politicians go about achieving their power. At my age, politics seems synonymous with voting because I do not think about politics unless there is a major election. Social media lights up. And these are my sentiments: confusion, frustration, disappointment, and ‘is that really true.’ I worry about what the generation before me is putting out there for me to see, hear, and learn. It’s what others in the political arena are presenting to the nation that challenges me in developing my own perception of politics. And, more importantly, how I can vote with confidence.
Gore Vidal said, “Fifty percent of people won't vote, and fifty percent don't read newspapers. I hope it's the same fifty percent.” I admit that I fall into this fifty percent. But my struggle in voting in the upcoming presidential election is not because of indifference. Rather, it’s because of the lack of confidence in exercising my privilege, right, and duty to make a difference. I genuinely believe it would be worse to vote without understanding. My lack of confidence comes from not being able to decipher the information overload. My frustration is founded in knowing that campaign strategies include untruths. The burden is on the voters, but shouldn’t we be able to trust our politicians and their campaign strategies? How the politicians behave during a campaign trickles down to the voters, who sometimes become complacent and blindly accepting.
Recently, I saw a picture on social media of Hillary Clinton shaking Osama bin Laden’s hand, along with the message that claims he donated to her past campaign and that Mrs. Clinton would be too friendly with terrorists if she were elected president. It did not take me long to research and find out that the picture is a fake. However, I wonder how many voters have not researched its validity. This is just one of many examples of my generation’s challenges when taking a political stance. I do not know yet if I am a fan of Hillary Clinton; however, I am a fan of a fair, mature, and truthful election campaign. I do not mind taking responsibility for finding out the truth, but it’s just not easy researching all the altered photos, misleading information, and false accusations. The Internet is a great tool, but it can be simultaneously overwhelming. It’s comparable to googling information on getting a splinter that is infected; all of a sudden I have a flesh-eating virus and need to rush to the hospital to prevent getting my finger amputated.
Although a struggle, I know I have to start being more involved. My parents encourage me to get involved. I am fortunate, neither has tried to persuade my allegiance toward a political party. The only thing they expect from me is to figure out what “I” want for “my” country. That is, it’s my vote, not theirs. The last presidential election, when my Republican mom told me, “I voted for Obama,” I realized that what “earnest” politics means to me was best said by John Quincy Adams, “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” For now, I plan to at least start with building my political interpretations, views, and convictions in the old-fashioned way of having conversations with people I respect and trust. I will commit to more time researching to better understand the issues at hand, and to then expand my confidence and trust in voting based on my principles.
Instructions (by Fiona Writes)
He feels for the square of paper folded neatly in his pocket as he climbs the well-worn gray cement steps and opens the rickety screen door.
Mom, are you in here?
He pushes through the door and down the long narrow hallway. The TV is on in the den and the window open. He knows these things before he sees them, feeling the waft of fresh air and hearing the background chatter that meets him in the hallway. As he places the small bag of groceries and toiletries on the counter, he sees that the scene he imagined in the hallway is spot on: his mom in her pajamas, sitting in front of the TV while some perky weather person or talk show host prattles on, the window open just a crack as sunshine struggles through the semi-sheer curtains to reach the corners of the dusty room.
Did you remember that I would be here today?
She looks up at him and smiles, gives him a half wave, and then grows distracted by the TV. He reaches into his pocket to unfold the square of paper. In his sister’s neat handwriting, he scans the list of chores:
Make sure you empty the trash! (Not only the one in the kitchen, the one in the bathroom gets really smelly.)
Moving on, he thinks.
Help mom change her clothes.
Oh, fun, he sighs.
Put the laundry bag out for the service.
Make lunch. (Don’t mention Nicky while you eat – if she starts calling for him again, you’ll never get her back on track.)
Put the leftovers in the fridge for dinner…
And on it goes. He looks up to see his mom lost in thought, wondering what goes on inside her head.
How are you doing today, mom? The sun is out. Should we go for a walk?
She smiles up at him again and he wonders, in this moment, who she sees.
Let’s get you dressed. I’ll pick something out and you can put it on, okay?
She half nods as he goes into the tiny bedroom to find something appropriate for the weather: slacks, a sweater, and the sturdy shoes that, just a few years ago, she wouldn’t be seen wearing in public.
Come on, mom. You get dressed and I’ll take out the garbage. Then we can go for a walk.
The instructions his sister had written for him are almost always the same: small chores that keep the apartment neat but not safe, address the basics but not the tough questions, never advice about what to do with the elephant in the room. His mom rises from her chair and heads toward the pile of clothing on the sofa.
Look at you, Johnny. Taking out the trash without being told. Let’s go for a walk. It’s a beautiful day. If you grab Nicky’s leash we can take him with us.
There is a spring in her step as she looks forward to an outing on a sunny day with her young son and their dog. Who is he to tell her the dog is long gone and her now grown son mourns both the family pet and the mom who slips away from him a little more each day.
Let’s leave Nicky to sleep, Mom. I want you all to myself today.