It would be an understatement to say I am a politically involved person. I’ve canvassed door-to-door, increased voter registration and spoken to more strangers on the phone than I can remember. Most importantly, I made it a top priority to consistently watch and read the news to make sure that I was not only keeping up with what my candidate was doing, but to hear from his opponents as well.
I’m not naive enough to believe that most people care as much about politics as me, so I’m really not surprised when I see polls indicating that a lot of the American public is comprised of one-issue voters who are woefully ignorant of what’s going on around them. Still, I had always held out hope for my fellow Hokies. Until just a few days ago that is.
Last week, a typical classroom discussion on religion had unexpectedly turned political, and my classmates were taking the break from our lecture to enjoy the friendly debate.
One student, however, seemed confused and broke the conversation with a loud question of her own. Wasn’t there a candidate who was Mormon or something? What was his name again? I face-palmed at my desk.
I admit, despite my pessimism regarding the general populace, I truly believed students at Virginia Tech were more knowledgeable about current events. Sadly, this young woman is not the only example of that; I know a lot of you have heard some of the misguided political discourse that takes place at our school.
Someone makes a cliche statement on the bailout, shouts something about "Obamacare" or purposefully distorts a candidate’s argument. A lot of what I hear is pure ridiculousness; it’s like we aren’t even trying anymore.
How can any of us, liberal or conservative, engage in a constructive argument about the U.S. political scene when we aren’t informed? I spoke to a dozen students recently who couldn’t name more than two Republican presidential candidates, and I am being generous since I helped them with pronunciation.
Close to none of these students had any idea what a "government option" for healthcare entailed, or what privatizing Social Security meant. I’m mindful that a considerable amount of Hokies are knowledgeable about these subjects, but the fact remains that we are a minority. The only thing most of us seem to agree on is that the other political party is ruining the country.
Many of us have become so fixated on our hatred for a particular official or issue, we forget that our information is coming from a biased news program or the lyrics of a bad country song. Is it too much to ask that we, as soon-to-be college graduates, sift through the blatant media propaganda and sharpen our critical thinking skills?
On the other hand, at least those people have been watching the news. Our ignorance of some of the most important factors shaping our near future says very little about our generation. I understand a great deal of the American public simply hates politics and does not feel the need to be informed on the subject.
This is perfectly fine so long as they do not complain about the economy or elections, or start spouting off incorrect statistics and engaging in arguments with the rest of us.
Unfortunately, this is rare. If there is even the slightest possibility that you will be participating in an election by arguing, campaigning or voting, please take the time to inform yourself about the issues you support or oppose.
However, in our defense, Kim Kardashian divorced Kris Humphries after just 72 days of marriage, Dr. Conrad Murray was found guilty, Lindsay Lohan was in jail for a few hours and Justin Bieber is taking a paternity test. But you already knew that, didn’t you?