by Editorial Board
As the presidential race rapidly takes off, men and women, businessmen and farmers, are actively becoming engaged in the political process. Each person is trying to understand their favorite candidate’s platform and the standards for which they will uphold their respective office.
The shame of politics, though, is that youth, consisting of people in high school and college, are becoming less and less engaged with politics and political discussion. The few youth who stay engaged are becoming extremely polarized in their beliefs. The polarization is becoming blinding, disallowing beneficial discussion or any engagement that does not end in the “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality.
Many politicians have tapered their campaigns toward youth to encourage them to become engaged. Slowly, youth are beginning to understand this purpose, but few are willing to act. The few that do act already have such strong beliefs that they refuse to listen to the opposing side or view.
Bernie Sanders is presenting new ways for youth to become involved in education, including making college tuition affordable, if not free, to many. Dr. Ben Carson has based his entire political platform on preserving the future for youth. Both candidates are setting primary focus on youth, but why are they still not getting involved?
Most students today are becoming less interested in what politicians have to say. Many politicians focus on the wealthy citizens and adults who are typically more likely to participate and vote. The youth are left unattended by the politicians, forcing the youth to lose interest almost immediately.
Information is crucial to youth. If they are to become involved, they need to be provided information about politics and political news. Too often, society provides very little opportunity for youth to learn about the government and truly understand what politics has to offer.
Many civics courses have been cut from high school and college curriculum. Instead, institutions focus their attention foundational work preparing for the next exam. They forget to provide supplemental information important for understanding societal norms or even anything beyond academia.
With students becoming less engaged and less exposed, it is no wonder that they do not care about politics. Society has fostered an environment in which politics has become less and less crucial for people to understand. This is extremely unfortunate due to democracy being based on the general public being informed and making decisions.
It makes complete sense why the youth who are engaged are extremely limited in their views. The only youth who are becoming active in politics are the ones who have very strong opinions about the many issues that are currently being faced.
Think about it. If your parent was unemployed and Medicaid was unable to help them through their time of unemployment, would you not form a strong opinion about Medicaid, a strong opinion about the people who created it, a strong opinion about the people who run it and how it could be fixed? Of course you would.
Polarization starts with strong opinions. Such opinions lead to strong political beliefs that are driven by vendetta or a blinding bias rather than logic, understanding or comprehension.
The youth engaged are buying into politics based on either being Republican or Democratic. They are losing sight of the ideals they believe in to accept the political agenda established by corporate Washington, D.C. Rather than becoming an independent and avoiding political titles, many youth are willing to deny their beliefs to accept the extremisim, so as not to cause issues or draw attention to themselves.
The disengagement of youth and politics, along with the division of the youth involved, has caused major controversy in political discussions. Think about the people who discuss politics with you. They are very concerned about their beliefs and very few will take the time to listen to your argument.
Instead, the argument is always to see who can talk longer and has more to say. Rather than students engaging in healthy political discussion, the focus changes from learning to competing, just like that. Students want to win the debate, replicating the approach many politicians are using in today’s debates.
Instead of having such hardened viewpoints, students should be engaged in healthy political discussion. Rather than having a society that fosters such extreme thoughts, society should focus on providing an environment where students and young adults feel comfortable sharing their political viewpoints and opinions.
This environment starts with education. Too often, colleges neglect civics courses and teach one-sided arguments that match with their beliefs, understandings, and interpretations. If educational institutions, such as high schools and colleges, fostered an environment where students felt comfortable, then maybe they would be more open to political discussion.
All it takes is informing the student body about politics and then allowing them to discuss the information they learned in a non-hostile environment. This would easily allow more students to become involved and avoid the polarization that exists today.
Once the proper education is provided about civics and politics, the unnecessary political division has the potential of being eliminated and students can once again feel equipped to discuss and understand politics. It is a very easy subject that has unfortunately succumbed to tragedy and bias.
The experience of politics is crucial to growth and development, especially during the college years. Think about how you view political ideas. Are you ready to get involved in politics? Are you ready to create an environment that allows students to become reengaged in politics? It is your choice and your opportunity to end polarization and begin a new era of involved, informed youth.
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 3 Oped