Growing up, I hated politics. To me, politics meant disagreements and arguments. They meant tense Thanksgiving dinners and political jokes I didn’t understand.
I always told myself politics were something adults worried about — not me.
I learned about government in middle school when it wasn’t relevant to me since I couldn’t vote and didn’t have a job. I never thought about it again too seriously,until two things happened:
- I became an adult.
- The 2016 election.
Suddenly, our country had a different kind of president running the country, like a horse loose in a hospital — we’d never seen anything like it.
I started to care about what was happening even though I didn’t understand the economy, our government system, liberal versus conservative, and what one party believed and the other didn’t.
My mind was swimming with terms that I needed to learn because I knew there were a lot of reasons to care about politics.
The government controls life as we know it.
Even if you’d like to be independent, living in a country means you abide by that government’s rules. Taxes, laws, rights, the value of the dollar, public spaces, travel, health, safety — everything is ultimately in the control of government.
Everyday life depends on the people we elect to make decisions. Quite frankly, your life depends on politics.
Your individuality is valued on a national scale.
One of the reasons people don’t vote is because they think “I’m just one person. What can my vote really do?”
Imagine the millions of people asking that same question. Those millions of people could easily change the outcome of an election.
When you think about it, government is difficult. We’re trying to elect officials to represent an entire country. We choose one person as the commander-in-chief.
But, people are so different — there’s no one person who can represent the views of 328 million people. Similarly, the only person who can represent your views are you.
Our democracy allows each of us to play a part in the decision-making of our country, and I think that’s an incredible thing.
Politics are the way for your voice to be heard.
When I was in sixth grade, we had an assignment to build a utopia. What was our ideal world? What were the laws that would govern its citizens? How did people make a living? What made people happy in this utopia?
As voters, we play the same role in politics. We all have values, beliefs, and ideas. In the most ideal world, everyone would suggest their ideas, iterate on them, and help build the best world for everyone to live in.
Voting is our way to fight for our values.
We elect officials to represent our voices and ideas. We elect people who can understand our values and fight for them on a higher playing field. They make the decisions to govern our utopia.
Our vote brings people who understand your way of life into the place where the decisions are being made — “the room where it happens,” if I may. If we don’t play a part in this, our needs and values will be forgotten in the laws that govern our lives.
The government is there to help you.
Think about your taxes. Sure, we complain about getting a large percentage of our paycheck taken out, but the money goes to improving roads, building parks, supporting public facilities like libraries and schools, protecting our country, supporting the elderly, and more.
Your money goes to helping you and your neighbors live better lives. Isn’t that all we can hope for?
Everyone talks about it.
It’s always a little disheartening to be in a conversation in which you have nothing to contribute. Politics is one of those topics that a vast number of adults are always paying attention to. Once you learn some basics and pay attention to current events, you can take part in many conversations.
Subscribe to a news source and pay attention to things happening in the world. Conversations about politics often turn into conversations about what we value as people — diversity, community, health, money, families. It’s worth having that conversation and getting to know who people are.
It’s never going away.
It’s easy to hate something when it’s temporary — like catching a cold or being in a bad job. These are things that you have direct control over with ways to fix them.
The government is permanent, and even if you hate politics, it’s never going away. The only way you can fix it is by getting involved. Get informed, fight for your rights, and make the world a better place.
The more I learn, the more I realize how deeply intertwined my life is with politics. The money I make, the places I live, every day-to-day decision ties back to our government, whether I’d like it to or not. Politics are inevitable, and being just a bit informed is all it takes to play a part.
Your voice, your ideas, your story — these are essential to the world and our country. Vote like your life depends on it, because it does.