Something important I’ve learned about in this class over the last semester has been, well, I think the best word for it is perspective. I’m having issues with finding the right word because I feel like its a mix of being aware of bias in certain forms of media, understanding why this bias may exist and focusing on being informed. I can’t really think of the right word for the mix of these things, so I’m just gonna use “perspective”.
Going into this class I felt pretty confident. I felt like I had a solid understanding of the US Government and about how politics, more or less, work in this country. I got, and still get, updates from some news outlets on my phone and I watched a bit of Daily Show and some real news sources. However, after about two weeks into the class, I realized that everything that I thought about the government was based on an understanding of specific instances. Like, I knew legislation that Democrats and Republicans were for and against, but I couldn’t really take that information and put it into a succinct statement. I knew about how certain bills passed back and forth through congress, but couldn’t describe the process as well as I had thought. I knew that the budget/debt caused a lot of issues, but nothing about the lingo.
Over the course of the class I had many moments where all of those disjointed ideas came together. I feel like these moments put my understanding into perspective and have allowed me to realize that there is a big difference between being informed and actually understanding politics. This is something that I wish more people my age understood. I’m not saying to not be informed, that’s step one, but, in my opinion, a citizen needs to have that base of understanding for that information to be used effectively.
One example of this is registering to be a member of a political party. As more and more of my friends turn 18 and begin registering to vote, I’ve noticed that few take the time to actually consider what joining a party means and how those parties work. Our school, in general, leans more towards the left than the right (you may have noticed from past posts), which can lead to students to automatically assume that 1) they need to register to be part of a party, and, 2) that the only real parties are Republicans and Democrats. I wish this wasn’t the case. I mean, with a simple one semester course, I’ve seen a number of friends in the class we’re in become far more interested and engaged in politics (which I like because I love talking about this kinda stuff).
Due to the way that political issues can explode on social media, I think it’s incredibly important for students in the US to learn not only about how their government functions, but how to get involved and make your voice heard. I don’t know exactly where this apathy I see amongst my friends comes from, but I wish that when events become “viral”, people would spend more time to research all aspects of government that play a role in the issue. People seem to make huge posts about an increase in a tax on whatever or a ban on something without looking at the process that law may have taken. I wish that we could be as interested in the political process as the final product, because, as we’ve learned quite a bit about, it’s much easier to stop something before its already been passed.
Honestly, I don’t think I would have voted in the last election without having taken this class. I’m happy with what I’ve learned and hope that, sometime in the future, our school can require a government class.