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The Irresponsibility of Ignorance: Why students need to care about politics

By Alex Ray in Opinion & Politics

It’s been apparent for some time. It started with middle school, when the Obama-McCain election started to heat up. I asked my friend who he wanted to win, as both of the candidates had very different ideas of where to take America, but I was met with a cold, blunt, “nobody cares”. I shrugged it off at the time, assuming that it was a phase that would disappear once high school came around. While this had a small grain of truth to it, young me was to be in for a shock. In high school, with a number of seniors voting before they graduate, and many still not knowing, not caring about the current events that swirl around them and indirectly shape their lives. For example, as I’m writing this on the 12th of September, a group of Libyans just attacked and killed Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador in Libya, and three other Americans. This group did this in response to an anti-Islamic video produced by a coptic Christian posing as an Israeli American. On September 11, PIB US History teacher, Mr. Peoples made this the topic of the class conversation of the day. I was quite shocked to find that a vast majority of my classmates had 1) no idea about the topic and 2) that most students have no clue on scope of the US foreign policy. A very small portion of high school students care about current events. Everything from the presidential election to illegal immigrants to abortion--big social and political issues--forces a yawn of disinterest from students. The issue is that these problems, especially in the US, directly affect Americans. And, more importantly, Americans can directly affect the problems. The basis of a working democracy is knowledge. In a country where the people make the decisions, the only way for the country to succeed is if the voters have the right information. In a sense, that is where early colonists had it right. The only voters--in colonies that allowed voting--were white, educated, men. Given that the “white” and “men” parts in that aren’t important. However, allowing only the educated to vote made sure that all of the voters formulated an opinion only after having all the information. Uneducated, uninformed voters leads to rash decisions in the government. While this may seem like a stretch to directly correlate knowledgeable voters to a successful nation, especially with America being a representative democracy, but really, no matter the number of representatives and indirect votes, the country is run by the people. Knowledge and education is the backbone of a democracy. This is the reason for my concern at the lack of concern for current events, foreign and domestic. As students, it is our responsibility to be prepared for when we are finished being spectators in the world, and start playing the game.

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