By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Photography Editor~
Last month, I was aimlessly scrolling through Facebook and stumbled across a photo of a baby calf with text across the image saying, “I am tired of pictures of Hillary and The Donald…so here is a picture of a cow. Enjoy!”
Now, there are a lot of problems with having this attitude about politics. But I understand that my friend who posted this was trying to lighten the mood of our current political climate. She wanted to ignore something that’s confusing, complicated and uncomfortable. But by ignoring something that affects all of us, we are failing as citizens of the United States, and as citizens of the world.
This kind of attitude is the same as being at a party where someone starts talking controversy, whether it’s abortion, the presidency or foreign policy. There’s always that one person that tries to shut the situation down, by saying “I hate talking about politics” before anything has even started.
Immediately, the conversation is deemed negative, argumentative and problematic. But the conversation is not the issue. There’s nothing inherently dangerous about talking politics. What’s dangerous are the ignorance and hate that can seep into these discussions. Being able to navigate sensitive and potentially aggressive discussions is a necessity. Shutting down civil political discourse does not somehow make you superior to those participating in it.
I registered to vote in Hamilton County the day I turned 18. I was looking forward to my 18th birthday not because I was going to be a “real adult” with “freedom” or because I wanted to buy cigarettes. Eighteen was the year I knew I could truly act on my title as a citizen of the United States.
The only reason I have the right to vote was because women fought for it almost 100 years ago. If I didn’t exercise my right to vote I would be disgracing every woman before me who marched as a suffragette to give me the chance to be a part of something bigger than myself.
Choosing ignorance only further perpetuates a polarizing political divide. It’s not about being able to recite every candidate’s position on each policy. It’s not even about choosing a party (because, let’s face it, the twoparty system is flawed). The idea of narrowing down your morals and values into a single person, a single vote, is intimidating, but this shouldn’t hinder your curiosity or your willingness to discuss politics.
The fact is, we live in the most powerful country in the world. Refusing to register to vote as an 18-year old citizen because politics makes you uncomfortable is unacceptable. This is the most important election to date, and it’s your civic duty to vote. If you’re not informed, get informed. If you don’t like any of the choices, research and learn the actual positions of candidates instead of mindlessly absorbing media. Rolling your eyes at the mention of politics is counterproductive to improving our nation and improving your own life. If you can vote and you don’t, you forfeit the right to complain about the outcome. Being uninformed, or frustrated is not reason enough to throw away your vote this November.
The next president of the United States of America is going to be elected, no matter how many pictures of cute animals you post on Facebook. The country will move on regardless of your frustrated tweets. I don’t care if you hate Hillary, and I don’t care if you hate Donald. Stop yelling at the person who brings up politics at a party and start educating yourself so you can participate in the discussion. Being a citizen of the U.S. is not something you can passively pursue. You have a say in what happens. Maybe the government is corrupt and maybe the system is flawed, but here’s your chance to try to make change happen. Are you going to take it?