Politics gets a bad rap—an unfair, unnecessary, and inaccurate bad rap, that is. Political engagement shouldn’t make us more polarized and angrier, but our political ideologies are certainly worth the passion that we put behind them. Here are three reasons that remind us of the importance of politics and its value to our country.
1. “And to the republic for which it stands” is our pledge.
Fair and free elections, citizens as active participants in charting their nation’s course, politicians representing the desires and demands of the citizens’ voices–these are just three of the small ways that democracies flourish. But without its values of “popular sovereignty; civic duty; a sense of the commonwealth; and resistance to corruption,” the country simply wouldn’t work.
2. Voting, which is a primary function of political engagement, makes democracy work.
A 2013 Forbes article shared dire statistics about the future of our participation in the political process:
“Only 45% of young people age 18 to 29 voted in 2012, down from 51% in 2008, according to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University. Voting is not the only means of civic engagement, but it is a significant indicator of people’s concern for making democracy work. Data show that young Americans have less positive and more negative feelings when thinking about the country than older Americans, attach less value to their American citizenship, and are less willing to engage in the range of activities, including voting, that are essential to make our democracy function.”
Yet higher voter turnout is what “makes our democracy more representative.”
3. So, the lame “politics is boring” or “politics is dirty” explanations for why you aren’t getting involved are really just bad excuses.
To say, “I don’t like to get involved with politics” is to refute a precious responsibility. Politics isn’t something we can choose to do or not to do. That’s why it’s important for all of us to participate in national and local elections. And my call to action goes out to Millennials, especially, because they are underrepresented at the polls. Analysts suggest that Millennials in 2016 are less likely to vote than previous generations of voters their age.
Once you take the first step, political involvement is easy. In an article for Elite Daily, conservative political writer Keith Fernandez, who is a Millennial himself, urges his generation to “just start,” saying:
“I’m not kidding. All you have to do is show up. You’d be surprised by how important it makes you. Whether it’s through voting or active political involvement, such as supporting a candidate or an issue, our presence and contribution make a difference.
We can and should embrace posting our views on Facebook and Instagram. I’m guilty of over-posting (as many of my friends will tell you after checking their Twitter feeds), but the vote-driving in our generation will and does come from talking to people one-on-one.”
We can no longer afford to pretend that politics is something that only plays out on television or in back-and-forth jabs between pundits. Politics matters—and it begins with you.