The Importance of Politics

It's time to speak up!

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Miami. Outraged claims of voting fraud are no longer only a regular part of elections in unsteady, young democracies - they’re increasingly being made in established democratic countries by populist politicians who question the fairness of the voting process - and with it the validity of representation by and for the people. At the final debate of the U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump refused to commit to honor the result of the Nov. 8 vote. But he’s not the only example of a politician casting doubt on the fairness of the democratic system in countries where it is the norm. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, file)

AP

FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Miami. Outraged claims of voting fraud are no longer only a regular part of elections in unsteady, young democracies - they’re increasingly being made in established democratic countries by populist politicians who question the fairness of the voting process - and with it the validity of representation by and for the people. At the final debate of the U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump refused to commit to honor the result of the Nov. 8 vote. But he’s not the only example of a politician casting doubt on the fairness of the democratic system in countries where it is the norm. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, file)

Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump.

We’ve all heard the names – you’d be living under a rock if you didn’t. Dominating the news outlets for months, the world eagerly watched and waited to see who would come out victorious as the president. Everybody was talking about it: every email, every tweet, every debate, but why?

On the surface, it seems like a silly question. People can’t avoid what’s put right in front of them. Every time I turned on the TV, checked my phone, or even talked to someone else, the election would undoubtedly come up. Depending on who I was talking to, I would either be hit with an opinionated stream attempting to persuade me why their candidate was better – or someone who just didn’t care.

Considering how important the presidency is, I was shocked that so many people didn’t vote. Putting myself in their shoes, I couldn’t imagine not having a say in who the leader of our country would be, just because I “didn’t care.”  It’s easy to believe that the president can’t affect you directly, after all, there’s a new global issue every minute. But I have a message to the neutral parties – no matter who the president is, you’re affected in one way or another. 

That’s in the past now, and Donald Trump is the president, whether you wanted him or not. He’s been in the news constantly, yet a good sum of the population still has no clue as to what he’s doing/what he’s done. It’s not a matter of a lazy president, it’s the individual matter of choosing to be uninformed.

With an approval rating of 39%, it’s clear that majority of the US is looking at him in dismay. (I would typically blame the population for electing him in the first place, but Clinton won the popular vote.) I’ve heard people complain about him, I’ve complained about him myself, but this isn’t an article to bash what he’s done. If you really want to know, look it up yourself.

That’s actually the point I’m trying to make – look things up. Staying informed is, in my opinion, one of the best things one could do. Not only does it help in social situations, but knowing what’s going on in your country, state, or county can make a huge difference. Don’t like what’s going on? Do something about it.

People these days like to think that there’s this magical force that makes things happen. When asked to do anything relating to a certain topic, a popular answer is “It’s not my job. Someone else can do it.” Everybody thinks that it’s someone else’s problem to fix things.

Blame the government? You elected the leaders – whether you decided to stay neutral or not, you still helped choose the representatives. Blame the country? You make up the population of the country. It really comes down to you.

If you’re passionate about something, protest it. Speak up! Vote! For every person who decides to take matters into their own hands, more will follow. The cliche of not being able to make a difference is false – everyone makes a difference. Even if you simply decided to protest an issue bothering you, that changes other people’s lives because it let’s them know you’re on their side.

I’ve talked about what you can do, but what can news sources do differently?

There’s the whole concept of “fake news,” the fact that the sources that we’re supposed to turn to for information are lying to us. Additionally, people will tend to chose certain sources based on their bias, therefore getting news tinted to their favor.

Although the bigger sources (CNN, MSNBC, FOX) aren’t changing their bias anytime soon, local journalists can attempt to write unbiased reports of the news. To the highly opinionated people, it might sound like a struggle to stay neutral, but simply writing the facts of the situation can help clear up blurred lines. At the Knight Crier, there’s a certain section for those who wish to write opinionated articles, and there’s a section for those who simply wish to report the news. Therefore, people can know what’s bias and what’s not.

Don’t get me wrong, bias can be good. It provides an alternative perspective on situations, and I’m always curious to see other people’s take on something that’s going on. There’s no problem with writing highly opinionated articles – the problem is that those articles are the ones getting to people the most. For a person who chooses to remain uninformed, a biased interpretation of a particular situation could be the only coverage they receive of any event, but in that case, the individual and the news source are equally to blame.

For the news sources: I cannot stress enough how unfair bias news can be to the people who want to stay informed. Your job is to accurately report everything that’s going on – not just pick and choose what situations will put your political party in the best light. Even if you really like a certain candidate, keep in mind that not everyone has the same opinion. We want to see everything that’s going on: the good and the bad. It’s unfair to refuse reporting something because it doesn’t fit your individual political standard and coloring the situation even further to make your candidate seem ideal. 

For the people: As a country, it’s our job to elect leaders who represent us. These leaders should be working hard to fix issues in the country and within the population, not making things worse. If you don’t do anything to elect someone in the first place, you have no right to complain about what they’ve done. You could have done the bare minimum to help, and yet here we are. If you choose to stay completely blind to what’s going on in the country, there’s no way you can even begin to help make a difference. Find a passion and act on it. Protest, spread the word, try to help others realize that every little action taken causes a ripple effect. It starts with you – not the government, not your neighbor, not your friend. You have the power to create change, and don’t forget it.