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.