[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Politics: a bad word to some and an often avoided topic of dinner conversation.
Being a recently graduated 31-year-old political communications intern who’s relatively wet-behind-the-ears when it comes to Utah politics, I find it easy to get overwhelmed. Immersing oneself in the ever-evolving political issues that face our state can feel more like self-induced waterboarding than navigating an information channel.
Historically, I have been the naysayer who dismissed the importance of voting and taking action in our overwhelmingly red state. I avoided political interaction like the plague hoping to attain some sort of blissful ignorance by continually telling myself “this doesn’t affect me.”
But after taking a political news course through the University of Utah which made following politics (both national and local) a requisite, I was hooked. I followed current events for several months and began to feel I had reached a point of no return. I could no longer just not know what was going on. It was actually exciting learning about policies that affected my community. It was as if I had been putting together Ikea furniture for years and was just now given the instructions.
I found myself scrolling through political news sites for hours on end… and I liked it! Sometimes I would stop and ask myself, “who am I?” remembering how loathsome I once found political discourse to be. I guess my 8th grade English teacher was right when she dubbed me a late-bloomer.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”11386″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://unsplash.com/photos/pPquxoraq_M?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Like many Americans, the 2016 presidential election threw me for a loop. I was shocked as a brash businessman turned TV reality star was elected leader of the free world. I couldn’t help but wonder “how did we get here?”. It seemed so clear to me that Mr. Trump was inexperienced and obviously ill-equipped to be our President. How could the rest of the nation not feel the same way?
When he won, I began to question my own beliefs on what a president should be (or any political leader for that matter). Despite the numerous allegations that surrounded him, whether it was sexual misconduct or financial turmoil, Trump still managed to pull it off.
How could these values, or lack thereof, not impede his ability to lead our nation effectively? Didn’t the American people take this into consideration before they took to the ballots? Apparently not. Which brings me back to the “this doesn’t affect me” mentality. I can’t help but think this attitude played a large part in the outcome of the election.
A year into Trump’s presidency, swimming upstream in an overflow of political news has become the norm. Couple that with the daily (sometimes hourly) onslaught of ‘fake news’ allegations and it makes for a very confusing and tiresome time to be an American who’s simply trying to understand what’s really going on.
But fear not! Having weathered this storm for a little over a year now, I have come up with three keys to navigate and maintain sanity in our current political apocalyptic landscape.
- Check your sources. In the current information age when instant gratification is the norm, ensuring information we absorb and share is accurate often takes a backseat to the expediency. Don’t be wrong just for the sake of convenience.
- Challenge your political beliefs. I used to hate cheesecake. As a kid it didn’t sound appealing so I went years without eating cheesecake, like an idiot. I urge you to listen to the opinions of opposing political parties and gain an understanding of why they take the stances they do on certain issues. I’m not saying all opposing views will be worthy of a cheesecake comparison, that may be a lofty expectation. But hearing them out and engaging in a civil discussion is much more beneficial to your sanity than bickering on the internet for all to see. Which leads me to my next key…
- Think before Tweeting – easy to say, harder to do, especially as the President gloats about his nuclear weapons button on social media. Before you take to Twitter and unleash a litany of expletives voicing your frustration to the world, take a breath. Fighting divisive rhetoric with impulsive rage may sound enticing, but it more so amounts to children in a hair-pulling contest. And it can get you fired. Just ask Kathy Griffin.
I get it. Fact checking, researching sources, and thoroughly investigating topics isn’t all that sexy. But you know what’s even less sexy? Perpetuating the so-called ‘false news’ narrative.
To quote renowned hip hop group Jurassic 5 (and paraphrasing activist Eldridge Cleaver), “either you’re a part of the problem or a part of the solution.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]