Kicking Political Apathy to the Curb: The Importance of Staying Plugged into Politics
Like most Americans, you’re probably tired of everything and anything that has to do with politics. Saying the 2016 election cycle was a rollercoaster would be a serious understatement, and many of us are trying to regroup after the wild ride we’ve been through.
Now that the votes are in and the President-elect is choosing the members of his administration, emotions are at an all time high. People are protesting, celebrating, sharing political articles and videos constantly, contributing to a recount and contacting their state representatives.
However, on the opposite end of the spectrum are the Americans experiencing a serious burnout known as election fatigue.
After all of the scandals, heated debates and brutal fights people have had with their friends on Facebook, it’s no surprise that people are ready to put this election behind them. In fact, people were ready to put it behind them way before Election Day.
So yes, it’s understandable for Americans to want to step away from politics. But in reality, we really can’t afford to.
Congrats, we let apathy win
Emotions can be a good thing when it comes to politics. They can push people to fight for what they believe in and inspire the country to continue moving forward. Emotions can also be detrimental to the progress we all seek.
Apathy reared its ugly head once again with approximately 58 percent of eligible voters voting in the 2016 presidential election. While this is only slightly lower than the voter turnout in the 2012 election, the U.S. still maintains its reputation for having low voter turnout in comparison to other countries.
With both of the leading candidates having significantly low approval ratings, it’s not a huge surprise that voter turnout was so low. Many voters felt trapped under the weight of voting for the “lesser of two evils.” Then there were those who went the third-party route as a protest vote or to send the message that hey, maybe a two-party system isn’t the way to go.
Too many people let their emotions get in the way of them performing their civic duty. Sure, we went through a lot as a country, but that shouldn’t have stopped anyone from making their voice heard through their ballots.
We haven’t left apathy behind
Now, wallowing in the post-election blues, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike are remaining victims of political apathy. Whether their candidate won or lost, too many people have checked out when it comes to politics. Even after the record high ratings political news networks saw during this election, like previous election cycles, those high ratings are expected to fall.
A scroll through your Facebook feed will show you plenty of your friends and family encouraging everyone to move on. But why should we? Politics still affect us after the major election is over. Things continue moving whether we’re engaged or not, so why not tune in and be informed about the decisions politicians are making for us so that we can be apart of facilitating change?
Not every article you read is credible
The fake news problem has been making headlines recently, with good reason. Fake news articles are believed to have played a significant role in the 2016 presidential election. People shared false information left and right, which may have swayed the opinions of voters.
With no regard for the integrity of democracy, people seeking a quick buck flooded the internet with fake news articles for money. This resulted in the sharing of these articles by people who gather their political knowledge from social media and didn’t make any further efforts to fact check.
With 61 percent of millennials relying on Facebook as their main source for political news, it’s easy to see why this fake news problem is, well, a problem.
Social media can be a great source when it comes to getting news as it happens. However, it’s important that people don’t rely on their Facebook and Twitter feeds to know what’s going on in our country.
Fact-checking is an absolute must in this digital age. Don’t fall for shocking headlines or overly biased articles. Read them thoroughly and use your best judgment to determine whether it’s too outlandish to be true.
Be your own teacher
It’s up to you to stay informed about politics, and that means doing some self-education.
There’s a lot to keep up with, but with the amount of information we have access to through our televisions, smart phones, tablets and computers, we have the power to be knowledgeable citizens.
When politicians you’ve never heard of start making moves in your state or in Washington, you should know what their platforms are and how their ideas could impact you.
New issues are popping up every day, and old ones are constantly evolving. When a new bill passes, you should know how that will affect you.
I created Hear My Voice for this very reason — to make keeping up with the issues simple. You don’t have to worry about any fake news here.
Hear My Voice is an app where you can see side-by-side, nonpartisan comparisons of important political issues, donate to causes that matter to you, contact your legislators and register to vote all from your smartphone or tablet. Because making your voice heard means doing more than just voting ‘Yea’ or ‘Nay’ on an issue.
The world of politics never stops spinning, and it’s imperative that we all keep up.
Featured image by Rachel via Flickr.