Updated: Apr 26, 2020
Ooooh my first political post. I am going to try and keep this as unbiased and non-partisan as humanly possible, so here's hoping that actually happens.
For those of you who don't know, I'm majoring in Political Science at Brigham Young University with a minor in both Creative Writing (duh) and Political Strategy. So while I'm not an expert on politics by any means, I am on my fifth semester of the major and do know a tad bit more than the average 21-year-old college student about the subject. That doesn't mean you have to listen to me or agree with me by any means--if this blog post offends you or upsets you, I encourage you to stop reading it and forget that I exist. I would do that if I were in your shoes. No bad feelings here.
(but FYI, writing mean, angry comments about this post, or any political post you disagree with, does nothing to change either of our minds. So if you're leaning in that direction...I invite you to instead just stop reading. I'm a college student still formulating opinions and I just wanted to share some.)
I think this has been said before, but I wanted to put it into my own words for this blog post. Growing up and even in college, I encounter a lot of people who simply "don't care" about politics. They don't care who's running for president or Congress, they don't care what bills get passed, and they don't care to talk about politics at all.
The last part, I get. Sometimes talking about politics can become exhausting and frustrating. You don't want to do it, especially not with people who you know will yell at or belittle you for your opinions. That's understandable. But not caring about politics as a whole--not caring about the things that happen in the lives of people who are different from you, not caring about the bills that get passed and made into laws in your own country...that's privilege.
'Privilege' is a loaded term in today's political climate. But it 100% applies here. Not caring about politics happens when you're not in danger of having your rights taken away by political actors. Not caring about politics happens when you're protected by the laws in your country and the socialized behaviors that occur outside of the law--the way people behave towards you based on how they were raised or how they are expected to act.
Underrepresented and underprivileged people care about politics because they have to. If women didn't stand up and say that they want ownership of their own bodies, lawmakers would continue passing bills that take away a woman's right to choose. If LGBTQIA+ citizens didn't stand up and say that they deserve the same rights as cis-gendered, heterosexual citizens, they wouldn't be able to enjoy their lives authentically, and would instead be harassed, fired for their sexual orientation, and denied the opportunity to be with the person they love. If people of color didn't stand up and say that it is inhumane that they're treated differently than white people still, in 2019, then no one would care about the fact that African American men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than white men. (Found in a recent study by Frank Edwards, Hedwig Lee, and Michael Esposito.)
So what if nothing, or only one thing, of the above applies to you? What if your rights are completely or mostly protected by the laws of the land? You still have an obligation to care about politics and bring to the forefront of the minds of lawmakers the issues and concerns of those who aren't as privileged as you. That doesn't mean that your life isn't hard. That doesn't mean that you haven't encountered trials in your life. But it does mean that you should use your status as someone who benefits from the law to help those who maybe don't benefit quite as much as you do.
I don't honestly know what the point of this post is. I just know that whenever I see a post on social media or hear a comment from a friend, family member, or acquaintance about how they "don't really care about politics," it gets under my skin a little bit. Politics determines how our world runs. Politics could mean the difference between life and death for some people. So you should care. You should care a lot. Even if you don't see anything in your immediate foreground that affects your rights. Because it's affecting someone else's, right now.
Participate in politics! Go to rallies and marches and stand up for the things you believe in. Have healthy, well-meaning discussions with people who think differently than you. My town held a women's rally in January 2019 and it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had, standing there in the freezing cold holding signs and listening to powerful women speak because that's something I care about. Find something you care about and get out there. Make a difference, and start caring about politics. If not for yourself, for someone less fortunate than you.