Is It Our Duty to Care About Politics?

Every four years (three if you count the year of pointless banter) presidential hopefulls begin to bombard the media with promises of policy changes and general reform in order to try and gain favor with the voters. I can’t help but notice the similarities between the presidential election and the elections for class president in middle school. It seems as though cries for “More pizza in the cafeteria!” are replaced by movements to “Increase taxes on the wealthy to lower costs for lower-class citizens!” or a similar controversial proposal. In the midst of the turmoil, I find myself (much like middle school election time) rather disinterested and dispassionate about the political campaigns as a whole.

Take note that I do not mean I am uninterested in the direction that our country is going or the decisions being made that change American life. Those are truly important. What I find unappealing are the squabbles and petty debates between candidates that seem more deserving of a US Weekly column rather than the front page of CNN Politics.

It is at this point that the question of duty comes into play. As an American citizen, am I obligated to pay attention to both the true issues at hand as well as the political gossip? To the unbiased voter, both could be considered equally important. The issues and opinions are what will ultimately change the course of our nations history. At the same time, the overconfident (borderline cocky) remarks of Donald Trump and the retorts of his opponents play a role in deciding which candidate will be the face of 318.9 million Americans for at least four years. Think of it this way, McDonald’s has a lot of items on their menu. However on some level, be it a subliminal thought or your initial reaction, you thought about Ronald McDonald. In the same way, whoever wins the race and becomes the 45th President of the United States will be the mascot of America in the eyes of foreign nations for at least one term, regardless of what is actually being politically accomplished within the walls of the Capital.

So what is the final verdict? Be involved. Stay informed. Don’t be like one of the 42.5% of Americans who chose not to go to the polls in the 2012 elections. Chances are it will not be your vote that tips the scales and changes the course of American history, but then again it might do just that. In the very least, do it to send a message. When the government sees that more and more voters are coming out to the polls and expressing their opinions, it becomes apparent that they can’t just make the decisions themselves by funding their candidate of choice. When it comes to the campaigning and news coverage, pay attention to what you need to pay attention to in order to develop a well-informed opinion. If watching a debate and breaking down the beliefs of each candidate helps you decide, so be it. Perhaps you want to go all out and devote an entire wall to dissecting each candidate thoroughly like some episode of CSI: New York is appealing to you. If it is, by all means go get some string and push pins to start tracking down who is going to steal your vote. However deeply you dive into election buzz, please don’t be passive. Not only does your future depend on your decision, the future of America itself depends on it as well.