Don’t be voluntarily politically ignorant 


Tribune News Service

Stephen Colbert attends the Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology; Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City.

By Shankari Sureshbabu , Columnist

sureshbabushankariIt’s finally October. Along with pumpkin spice lattes every day and barn dances every other week comes the highly anticipated finale of everyone’s favorite reality show: the 2016 presidential election.

To be honest, I was under the impression that even people living under a rock knew about the ins and outs of this year’s election, but there are surprisingly a lot of people that are voluntarily ignorant.  They choose to ignore the political turmoil that has defined the last several months.  


Historically, the 18-to-24-year-old voting demographic has the lowest voter turnout.  Despite Bernie Sander’s popular run, we had to say goodbye to him at the primaries, and along with him the expectation of a higher than usual showing at the polls. 


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    Researchers say it’s because “young adults often don’t feel they have a stake in a particular city or community, so they don’t feel motivated to vote.”


    This is a shame because millennials make up about 21 percent of the voting age population, but only 42 percent of them said they were registered to vote in 2014, a record low. 


    Now, I’m not saying that we must all be political science majors and track every single event that happens in the news. I largely try to stay away from writing political pieces because I don’t think I have much to say that hasn’t been said already. Even though I do try to keep up with news, follow the campaign and decipher the rhetoric thrown by both sides, I’m scared I’m still too ignorant about the issues.


    My terror of ignorance aside, I didn’t end up knowing nothing without trying. Realizing I knew nothing about politics besides what Schoolhouse Rock taught me, I tried to turn off the Indian T.V. serials and watch more of the news during dinner.  Although they weren’t exactly the most impartial media for an impressionable teenager to watch, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert provided two of the lenses through which I determined much of what I thought of the complex world of politics.


    Many in my generation have had similar experiences with politics.  Despite our high school curriculum’s best efforts, it’s difficult to teach in school many of the controversial issues taking place in the center of the political field today. This makes it even more important for students to take initiative to learn about what is going on.


    Unfortunately, this initiative is only taken by those who find interest in politics. However, being ignorant of politics and being ignorant of coding have very different implications. You can get by in life without knowing Python and it probably won’t have any real effect on your life. Although knowing how to program is quickly becoming a very sought-after skill, knowing the important social issues at debate in your country affects your life far more.


    You may think that being aware of politics may be futile. You may think your vote doesn’t matter, or maybe you think the state of the nation is fine and things aren’t really going to change regardless of who leads the country. That is a reckless and selfish attitude to have.


    These issues can make or break someone’s career, well-being or even life in this country. They are hotly debated and at the forefront of many debates because they are important enough to have significant consequences on thousands of people’s lives — yours included.


    It is true that politics may seem like a never-ending pile of background info and events you need to know about. However, learning more about politics makes you more of an involved citizen and can lead to real change.


    After all, every politician today was once just an informed member of society with enough passion to try to make a difference.


    It’s easy to push politics off as an older generation’s responsibility. However, it is our future just as much as theirs that is at stake. Issues like Black Lives Matter, immigration policy and climate change affect millions of people so it’s foolish to stay ignorant.
    After all, while you choose not to use the voting privilege given to you, many wish they could vote at all, including me.

    Shankari is a sophomore in LAS.

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