“I was raised sex, politics and religion aren't party talk.”
This quote from Mad Men is one that I don’t particularly agree with, but if we don’t talk about politics, what else matters?
With people my age, their unwillingness to talk about politics stems from their lack of interest, rather than fear of conflict. If you’re not interested in politics, chances are you don’t have anything to lose.
One key thing that is central to a healthy democracy is the participation of its citizens. Although not voting isn’t illegal, it’s shameful to not take a stake in the country where people died defending your right to self-govern. The only weapon against corruption is citizen activism. It’s not that deep. I’m not asking you to leave work and go protest or even call your senator — all you have to do is care.
It’s incredibly destructive to have such an indifferent attitude about government. It minimizes the work that activists and reformers do to make sure your life is easy, safe and prosperous.
People should take the time to research the issues they see on the news and formulate their own opinions on them. Unfortunately, the root cause for most people not caring about legislature is that it doesn’t personally affect them. That is just not a good excuse at all. For some people, the things we vote on are vital. The least you can do is discuss it at the dinner table.
For the cancer patient who doesn’t have health care, for the refugee with no home and for the student who’s afraid to go to school, our public policy is a matter of life and death. We all have a different idea of how to solve problems, but we need to at least try something. Discussion and collaboration allow us to reach innovative solutions that would be unreachable on our own. We need the push of the left and the pull of the right in order to bring us to a higher middle ground.
We need to have empathy for other people. You might see the excessive tweets about our president or Congress as an annoyance, but I see it as an amazing opportunity to understand someone else’s struggles and their impact on an individual level.
When I get into a heated debate and someone says, “I don’t like to talk about politics,” my eyes roll. That type of complacency, or aversion, to ideas other than their own is toxic and self-defeating.
Another thing you should ask yourself is whether your disinterest in domestic affairs is derived from being too lazy to do thorough research. There are a lot more fun things to do in your spare time than reading, but I can’t imagine living in this huge world and knowing little about it. Humans are supposed to be curious creatures, the world of journalism depends on that.
Start caring about politics for the sake of others because at some point, someone that you don’t know could decide your fate.
Layla Soboh is a UF advertising junior. Her column comes out Tuesday and Thursday.