Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, Left-wing or Right-wing. What do these words even mean for young people living in a seemingly polarized world? The reason I ask this question is because in only a year and a half, all current Seniors, Juniors, and some Sophomores will be 18 and eligible to vote. As the Presidential process unfolds, the Democratic National Convention just announced its location in my hometown of Milwaukee, and Democratic politicians have been announcing their candidacy on the road to Wisconsin in 2020. Clearly, now is the perfect time to start tuning in.
Politics affect every decision that’s made, and for us especially as a young people in the world. In the 2016 election, the overall voter turnout was 56.9%, almost 2% lower than 2012 and over 5% lower than 2008. Only 46.1% of those 18 to 29 years of age voted in the 2016 Presidential election. This is something that needs to change. As strong leaders, I hope all of ud find ways to exercise our democratic rights and vote in 2020. Though voting is one of the most effective way to demonstrate your democratic rights, I argue that understanding the current political issues and steering clear of identity politics is nearly as important.
Identity politics happens to the best of us; I’m a democrat so I only believe X, and you’re a Republican so you can only believe Y. Labeling is quite easy when it comes to politics, and often times it’s okay to identify with a label. Still, when selecting a Presidential candidate to support in our first election, it is important to listen and maintain your own beliefs– regardless of labels. We need to understand the issues that are being discussed, first. Completely supporting every position in any political party’s platform, whether Democrat, Republican, or a third party or independent, is highly unlikely. Remember, disagreement is useful, expressing your belief and making yourself heard is good. If you disagree on an issue within the political party you support, try to pick up followers to make yourself heard! Political parties and their platforms are not set in stone. As a matter of fact, it used to be Republicans who supported a balanced budget and Democrats who supported deficit spending; yet, with our current President in power, the country recently passed a billion dollar plus tax cut, which increased the national debt substantially.
My points are these. First: if eligible, vote! Second: listen! Start by figuring what you like and do not like about what candidates are saying and how they are saying it. Third: if you do not understand an issue, research it. Coming up with or embracing your own ideals is empowering. Lastly, if you feel no party or candidate is supporting or properly emphasizing your ideas, try to convince them by advocating your position with friends and anyone who will listen. Candidates want to listen to you; after all, we decide whether they may continue their careers. Please understand that you, a single person, can spark a movement, a change, and make the world a better place. Remember, the easiest way to make a change is by voting, because your vote matters. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Micah Sweet is an Aleph from Wisconsin Region who loves to swim, watch sports, and laugh with friends.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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