Why You Should Care: Political Involvement

by Caleb Schrock-Hurst – Horizon Guest Columnist

Ah, 2016.

Though we have been hearing about the upcoming election for what seems like forever already, this week marks the Iowa Caucus and the official beginning of the 2016 election season. The field on the Democratic side is basically down to two, while the Republican race is still wide open, assuming Donald ‘The Trumpenator’ Trump fades down the stretch as many predict he will.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 8.21.24 AM
The best thing about freedom of speech? This.

And though I personally think all of you should vote for Bernie Sanders (Feel the Bern everyone. Feel the Bern), I am not going to spend my time trying to convince you to do so (the facts should convince you themselves). I won’t even try and convince you to not vote for Trump (the facts should convince you themselves). Rather, I just want to convince you to get involved in politics.

So let’s review.

We are a democracy. Yay! America! As much as we hear this a lot, we do seem to forget how privileged we are: We have some astoundingly talented leaders that many people can only dream of, and we have what once was a ground-breaking set of laws (the good old Bill of Rights) protecting us.

(Side note: My favorite right has to be freedom of speech. I mean, we can make dubstep remixes of politicians saying ridiculous things with total impunity. We truly live in an enlightened age.)

Anyways, this is great, right? We have freedom. We have – at least some – good politicians. We are all set for another 200 years of leading the world and electing officials that will work for the common good and protect the innocent and all that jazz, right?

Well, no.

Here’s the catch about democracy: It fails pretty dang quickly when the populace A) starts a revolution and changes the system or B) gets complacent or has no idea what is going on and doesn’t even notice when someone monarchical slowly takes over and converts the Republic into an evil, dirty Empire (pick your own analogy: Star Wars or Rome).

So. We seem pretty safe from departure from democracy route A. What about route B? It basically can’t happen as long as we stay involved and know what’s going on in Washington.

For some reassurance that this was happening, I turned to my peers in the form of a survey I sent out to all the students at Hesston.

And man, was I not reassured.

Granted, this survey was about as unscientific as they come, but it still gives us some interesting (and scary) data. One in five respondents didn’t know how many people are in the Senate. More than half couldn’t name a supreme court justice or a single (correct) representative from their state. A fourth aren’t registered to vote and nearly half are not planning on voting in this year’s election.

This is embarrassing.

Guys! Politics are important! The government does a ton of crap (like building roads, running schools, taxing us, and bombing small children) and they literally ask us to give our opinions on who should make these choices.

Sites like TurboVote take you through an easy process of registration.
Sites like TurboVote take you through an easy process of registration.

But, if you don’t want to participate in politics, I understand. A few people said they think voting goes against God’s expectations for us, and I have no problem with this religious conviction. However, if you pass up the chance to vote, you have passed up the chance to complain about how bad the roads are, how crappy your kid’s school is, how much you pay in taxes, or even how many small children the government blows up.

Assuming you now do think voting is important (gotta elect someone who will deal with those potholes, am I right?), here are some things you should do:

  1. Get ready to vote. Register to vote and then take this quiz to find out which current candidates share your values.
  2. Get informed. Brush up on your American History and browse a bit on this cool website. Additionally, some issues I would suggest researching (these sources and my choice of topics are definitely biased, fyi): gerrymandering, the Koch Brothers, Citizens United, the two party system, lobbying, and the military industrial complex.
  3. Get your Netflix binge on. Watch either The West Wing (on Netflix) or The Newsroom (on Amazon Prime) if you want to spend your free time immersed in stellar dialogue about real political issues.

Voting is your chance to make your opinions heard. Don’t forfeit it. Hope to see you in the voting booth.

Peace.

Caleb Schrock-Hurst is a Sophomore at Hesston College where he works as a Writing Assistant, Ministry Assistant, and Horizon contributor. He would like to study everything, but when forced to choose selected English, History, and Music. Outside of academics his main interests are tennis, Bernie Sanders’ political campaign, the global church, and Arsenal Football Club. Feel free to contact him at caleb.schrock-hurst@hesston.edu or find him on campus if you wish to exchange verbal or physical blows. (Editor’s note: Caleb Schrock-Hurst’s opinions are not necessarily those of the Horizon staff or Hesston College.) 

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