By Ria Patel
Artwork by Hallie Anderson
These days, I find it extremely difficult to open any news site, whether it is CNN or the Washington Post, without being hit with a slew of headlines screaming in big bold font something along the lines of, “Read the latest tweet from President Trump” or “Democratic Debates reveal new party lines!”
Over the last few months, the media had me almost convinced that we’re all at a fork in the road: either choose to support our current president, or throw ourselves headfirst into the panicked frenzy that has been the 2019 Democratic Party debates. The conversation around politics recently has been stuck in this rigid binary: either be content with the way that the United States is currently being run, or be ready to welcome a change from a completely different direction.
For those of us who do not exactly agree with either President Trump’s or the Democratic Party’s values, we should keep in mind that there are other options as well. Just because I find that my views don’t perfectly line up with either the Democrat or Republican party platforms does not mean that I should not participate in the democratic process. The whole system of democracy was created to incorporate not just one or two voices, but a wide array of opinions.
With all the noise of the Democratic debates (23 candidates in all) and Trump’s second campaign, many are not even aware of the fact that there is another Republican candidate in the running. Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, who has a background in both Libertarian and Republican politics. Leaning a little further left than most Republicans, Weld sports unique opinions on immigration and abortion.
Although lesser-known candidates such as Weld are often drowned out by the media buzz surrounding the frontrunners, those like myself who hold unique opinions that do not fit within either major party can find ourselves connecting with those third party politicians or, in Weld’s case, not-quite-frontrunners in the election who often receive less coverage.
Third-parties put forth candidates each election cycle that ultimately get overlooked in the presidential race: sometimes because citizens simply are not aware of the candidates, other times because they think that a vote for a third party is a “lost vote.” I firmly believe this is far from true. Voting for a third party simply means that your views align with theirs, and I definitely can visualize a day when U.S. citizens elect a third party candidate. The list of third parties is seemingly endless: Libertarianism, Socialism, the Green Party, etc., etc.
I am not urging you to identify with one of the groups that I mentioned above, but instead encouraging you to take initiative and participate in our local, state, and national governments to the fullest extent. Voting is only a fraction of our civic duty; true efficacy means learning about our candidates, all of them, speaking up about what you are passionate about, and doing your best to become an active, informed citizen of St. Mary’s, of Memphis, and of the United States. There is something out there for everyone, even if popular culture does not seem to acknowledge it.
We may still think of ourselves as teenagers whose voices do not make a difference, but we have a lot more power than anyone cares to admit. In fact, by the time that the presidential election rolls around, almost a third of current upper school students will be able to vote.
Whether your passions lie in gender equality, environmentalism, international studies, the economy, language, literature, or any other school of study, politics is something that will directly affect you! However, staying involved in the news does not have to be that difficult. Sign up for a five minute newsletter like The Skimm or CNN, discuss important issues with your parents, or take advantage of the many magazines and newspapers on the shelves in the Weir Study.
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