After this week’s Iowa Caucus, it’s evident that youth political participation will play a major role in the 2016 presidential election. Social media coverage, arguably radical candidates and policies and programs that impact students directly create an environment that not only involves young adults, but requires their attention. Here, our editorial board weighs in on what their own contributions to politics looks like.
Kate Mishkin, Editor-in-chief
As a journalism minor and editor of TKS, I’m inclined to focus on the importance of the press and staying informed, especially during election season. I remember coming to college in 2012 and getting my first absentee ballot after I turned 18. It felt really important that I voted in the election, but it felt even more important that I knew what and for whom I was voting. I spent hours researching representatives and platforms, and when I voted, I felt well-informed and excited.
It’s easy to vote the same way our parents or our peers vote. Every time I come home from college, I somehow always end up in a dinner table debate with my entire family, but it isn’t the typical “now-liberal, liberal arts student comes home to her conservative family and teaches them about acceptance and privilege”-type situation. The six members of my family all have various opinions on a wide array of topics. I feel passionately about social issues, but my brother is more knowledgeable about statewide politics. I have a conservative sister studying political science in college, and I really respect her ability to defend her beliefs and debate them.
I feel influenced by my family, but I think it’s important to make decisions on our own by engaging in the press and in lively debates. It’s important to vote, and to do so responsibly.
Casey Mendoza, Editor-in-chief
During my time studying political science, I’ve studied nearly every facet of American politics, voiced concerns and complaints to my local representatives, and registered people to vote. When I lived in D.C., I focused my studies on political communications and journalism, sat in on Senate hearings, reported on protests at the National Mall, and celebrated Obergefell v. Hodges on the day of the ruling at the steps of the Supreme Court.
As important and exciting as those things are, my biggest political contributions, I believe, aren’t necessarily as academic or involved. I stay active in politics best by making a conscious effort to stay informed and help others do the same. That doesn’t just mean keeping tabs on political candidates and local lawmakers (though, that’s very important); it also means looking out for the issues that affect myself, people I care about, and people underrepresented in the arena of politics. On a local level, this means reading the Register-Mail to gauge the problems of the community and listening to the complaints of fellow students to gauge what can be done and how political figures can respond. At the national level, that means following the Flint Water Crisis, Black Lives Matter movement, legislation on Planned Parenthood, etc. Staying informed about these issues allows us to effectively voice concerns to our government, and represent those who don’t have the political power to represent themselves.
As politics have a hand in nearly every part of our lives, it’s our duty to stay informed and keep our government in check.
Tawni Sasaki, Discourse Editor
I grew up in a family that does not prioritize political contribution, so most of my involvement stems from working on a campaign while I was in high school. I don’t consider myself to be extremely involved politically; rather, I focus on spreading awareness among my peers through social media and general discourse. I vote in local and national elections (though in my home state of California), participate in polls and phone surveys, and try to become educated in issues that are important to me. For me, understanding the significance of being an active citizen and knowing that expressing my opinion can contribute to make a difference in the political processes really encouraged me to become even more involved. The more I understand politics and the bureaucracy that is the U.S. government, the more I want to understand how I can become a part of it. I enjoy staying up-to-date on current events, whether they be domestic issues or those that occur on the other side of the world.
Now that I’m able to, it’s important to me to take advantage of living in a country where I can voice my opinion and be a part of a movement that works towards positive change. The more I participate, the more confident I become in my own beliefs and role as a citizen, and I encourage others to do the same.
Kiannah Sepeda-Miller, Associate News Editor
My political participation dates back to President Obama’s re-election campaign. I’d seen Obama speak four years earlier when he accepted the democratic nomination, but turning 18 and earning the right to vote in time for the national election changed something for me. It wasn’t just a privilege but a duty. That duty extends beyond continually seeking to educate myself on our political system and the issues facing our nation. It means considering how I can make a difference at any given time. Back in 2012, that translated into registering voters in my hometown the same day I signed myself up as an absentee voter in my “purple” swing state before heading off to college. But more importantly, it meant – and continues to mean – encouraging those around me to utilize their rights as citizens – no matter their political persuasion. It means talking information over ideology and helping others educate themselves and act on their beliefs. Increased participation makes for a better electorate.
Callie Rouse, News Editor
I grew up in a politically active family. My parents always voted and we debated politics in the car. When I was in eighth grade, I first became politically aware after attending an Obama rally with my family, and after my freshman year in college I canvassed for Staci Appel’s congressional campaign in Iowa. College helped me become more socially and politically active and I became an International Relations major so I could learn more about political systems around the world worked. I try to contribute to politics by being active as a voter and pushing my friends to vote and to care about national and international issues as well. I stay active because I do believe that the action of the individual matters and I want to work in the political field after graduating from college.