In a democratic society, as famed philosopher John Dewey once said, having a proper education and a continuous drive to learn is absolutely essential, because it is these qualities that enable citizens to articulate their input and help the nation grow. After all, if a land of uninformed and disillusioned fools are given free reign, they will thrive only in a wasteland.
The argument of many is that students should act on their own initiatives to become informed, in order to prepare themselves to vote in coming elections. But for most of the student body, politics is either a touchy subject, or one that elicits headaches and total disinterest. The majority of my peers fall into the latter category.
If you were to ask them of their political views, they would find themselves lost in a vacuum of incoherent thought. It doesn’t help that many of them see little reason to invest their time in something they don’t care about, and that is rampant with conflict and bureaucratic tradition.
“A lot of students say they hate politics, or just don’t like discussing it,” said junior Matthew Balkum. “I always think it is because of the nonpartisanship and the continuing debates, with seemingly no resolutions. But people still need to be informed!”
Students turned off by such things leads to them being totally withdrawn from the political sphere. If such lack of support in the democratic nature of our nation is left unchecked, it will result in a declining voter turnout, a longer election season and ultimately a broken machine, where only a small minority of voices are heard. Already, these effects can be observed in recent presidential and mid-term elections.
The most important and oftentimes challenging goal is finding resources and outlets that will help students gain information on both local and world events. Many students are already connected to news once its breaks through social media.
“Social media has a lot of negatives,” said senior Anthony Rocca, “but it has a lot of positives in being the quickest way to get information. I know for a lot of the political or social things I hear about, I hear it first on Twitter. Like the Baltimore riots, I learned about it first when people were tweeting about it and protestors were putting pictures up of all the things going on up there.”
Social media does have some flaws— the portrayal of news is oftentimes biased, and some major news networks are not as quick or active in their online accounts. National Public Radio, commonly abbreviated as NPR, has become the resounding source of the self-proclaimed informed, as senior Owen Dee can attest.
“I listen to NPR every day, from 6:45 to 7:15 p.m. In this frame, I get local, national, and global news reported without any sort of bias– just pure facts. It can be boring for some students, but I find it so interesting because I am doing my duty as an American citizen: to be knowledgeable in recent affairs.”
To find unbiased news is often a challenge and so many teachers think finding multiple sources and knowing where bias is can help the truth be found in political matters.
“It’s very hard to find unbiased sources, a lot of times it’s one perspective against another,” said AP U.S. History/AP European History teacher Jennifer Ordetx. “NPR and CNN are probably the most unbiased sources, but students have got to be able to pull information and know their sources while doing their own research.”
Gathering this information and gaining this knowledge is a duty of a democratic citizen to ensure proper reflection and using problem solving and actually thinking on one’s own to craft one’s decision.
“It’s a civic responsibility,” said AP Human Geography teacher Teresa Patterson. “To push students to want to learn more about politics makes sure that outside of school they’ll make smart decisions and not be swayed. They can be smart voters.”
As it has often been said, the youth are the future. If we decide to lose interest and not want to know what is going on with politics, whether locally or nationally, we are hindering ourselves from making changes, and stripping ourselves of both our voice and our choice.

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