By Ariel Steinsaltz
‘We don’t want to talk about politics.” I hear this phrase pretty much everywhere I go.
People often don’t want to get political because it’s not a particularly fun topic or because some might get offended. I understand — talking politics can be unpleasant, heated and it can cause arguments between friends and family. But we don’t talk about politics because it’s fun, we talk about politics because it’s important. These conversations are ones that we need to have.
Politics isn’t just some mess that comes up in a presidential election every four years — the subject is always relevant and impacts every single aspect of our lives. The internet that we use on a daily basis is affected by the regulation, or lack thereof, by the Federal Communications Commission. The medications we take are approved or denied by the Food and Drug Administration, which also makes rules about what can and can’t be in the food we eat. On a more local level, the amount of funding in public schools is determined by the level of property tax in a district. The funding of public colleges and universities, like the one we attend, comes primarily from the state government.
Some may decide to remain apolitical beause they aren’t as affected by the government as others, which is where privilege comes into play. When the president instituted a ban on transgender people serving in the military, cisgender people didn’t suddenly lose their jobs. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, some citizens would be stripped of their reproductive rights while others would remain unaffected. When families seeking asylum at the border are ripped apart and migrant chil- dren are detained in cages, people living far away from the border may not be directly impacted. But just because an issue doesn’t affect us personally, that doesn’t mean we can just let it go.
It’s easier and more pleasant to ignore these things, but what is right is not necessarily what is easy or pleasant.
As South African Cleric and Civil Rights Advocate Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
I’m not condemning anyone who iden- tifies as bipartisan — you shouldn’t have to align with any specific political affiliation to have a problem with stripping peo- ple of their basic rights. If you don’t want to talk about tax rates, foreign trade or regulation of the internet, that’s fine. But if your response to hearing about the government locking children in cages “that’s politics, let’s not talk about it,” then you are telling me, whether you intend to or not, that you are okay with children being locked in cages. Which you might be, but if that is a case, you should just come out and say it.
Many people adopt the mentality that “talking about it won’t make a difference, so what’s the point?” This is an important question, and something I used to wonder about, but there is a point. For one thing, if you educate yourself to form an opin- ion on why certain policies are wrong or harmful, you might be able to convince people to stop isolating themselves from the political realm. If more people realize that certain policies are wrong, then more people can do something about them. The largest protests for change in history all had to start with a few people talking about the issues they were passionate about changing. We have to talk about the problems of this generation or the next great protest might never come to be.
Talking about politics might be unpleasant, boring or spark disagreement, but it has to be done. No matter what your opinion is, if you don’t share it, you will never have the opportunity to do your part.
Students share opinions around campus
Should students prioritize political involvement?