It’s that time again, time for the citizens of the United States of America to vote for and ultimately choose the next leader of their country. For the past few weeks and now continuing into the next few days, the candidates in the running are quickly trying to sweep up some last minute votes and make their platform look the most promising.
For many Americans, this is a very stressful time because they are worried about how the new president’s thoughts and opinions will line up with their own and how the changes that might be brought upon our country might affect them for the better or for the worse.
The last time that there was a presidential election in 2008, I was only 11 years old and in the fifth grade. I remember learning about the Electoral College and the distribution of votes based on population. I remember that Barack Obama and Joe Biden were running against John McCain and Sarah Palin.
I remember waking up the day after the election and my mom telling me that the new president of the United States was Barack Obama. I remember all of this running through my mind, but what I do not remember is how I reacted to all of this. The election was just a thought that was hidden in the back of my head and that was brought out just to be seen for a second time and time again. To draw a conclusion from all of this, the 2008 presidential election was an important event that meant little to nothing to me.
Four years later and I am almost 16 years old. I can’t vote and I most certainly am not the most well-read person when it comes to politics (although I am eligible to get my learners permit to drive the day before Election Day! Does that count for anything?) but I definitely am more aware of my surroundings this time around.
Last year in school I took a basic Government class which did not necessarily teach me about politics but it gave me a basis of how the government functions among important laws, documents and rights of the people. Other students in my school have taken other classes such as “Political Science” and “Law and Society” to gain some more governmental knowledge.
As a whole, my generation is proving to be a little more familiar with the struggle ensuing between the candidates and we’re starting to form our own beliefs on several issues. This election in comparison to the 2008 one has a meaning for us. Many issues that directly concern young people are up in the air: public education and college affordability, teen pregnancy and the right to have (or not have) an abortion and the economy and the possibility of finding a job after college. Of course these aren’t the only topics that are of concern to, or are extremely important to, teenagers.
I think it’s a great thing that my peers and I are getting involved with current events and are genuinely concerned with the direction that our country is going in, whether one thinks it is for the better or for the worse. By the time the 2016 election rolls around the majority of current high school students will have the ability to vote and hopefully will exercise this right. By then, we will have an even better understanding of even more issues such as foreign and domestic policy and healthcare.
The unfortunate outcome of all of this is that once we formulate opinions we post them on the Internet for everyone to see or we get into heated arguments with our friends. People become really nasty toward each other and have issues respecting each other’s opinions.
This is far from the point of politics in our country. Everyone is allowed to have their own, unique thoughts. Not only do we begin to make “enemies,” because “this person is a Republican and I am a strong Democrat!” but we become so stressed out about the whole affair. When I encounter such behavior it makes me wonder if we should be yearning for those early years when “politics” was just an 8 letter word that meant “grown-ups only”? Is ignorance bliss?
Ariana Sadoughi writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.