This is the fifth and last week of TheVote’s run as an educational site created for COM 495. In attempting to teach other politically clueless students like myself about politics, I’ve learned some things along the way.
At the beginning of these five weeks, I suspected that perhaps the most worthwhile reason to vote was not to make your voice heard, not to do your civic duty, and not to influence the future of your country, but rather to participate in a socially significant tradition. As I’ve learned over the weeks in my research and keeping up with the news (minimally) for this blog, my original intuition seems to have been correct. I watched the first debate because it was “required” for class. Then I watched the second debate, since I was entertained by the first. Then I watched the last debate. And in watching these spectacles, hearing students talk about them the next day on campus, and keeping an eye on the news, I began to have a feeling that this election is the greatest unifying event I’ve ever seen. Every American has something to say about this, and even the world is watching. For once all of America has something in common, and we’re unified in spite of and even because of our extreme disagreement. That’s big.
Personal bias is extremely influential. Last week I tried something new and wrote an opinion piece on Hillary as an exploration of my own views, since I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought. Getting those thoughts out in the open made me scrutinize them more, and see a bit more clearly about which were legitimate and which ones aren’t. For one thing, how someone talks doesn’t make them evil (Hillary’s style of speaking is the way that most polished speakers talk). And most politicians are liars. My problem with Hillary can be summed up in one word: attitude. But the point is, when you externalize your thoughts and put them out there for the world to see, you start to think about them more critically and look for the patterns of reason. When things don’t make sense, it gets obvious pretty fast.
So, I hope you’ve had fun poking around this site! Now go introduce yourself to a voting booth and get an “I voted” sticker—that makes it all worthwhile. And don’t worry about politics too much. Election years can get a bit crazy, but they’re an American tradition. It beats the alternatives!