“I’m not really into politics,” or “I know nothing about politics,” are the two most common phrases in the United States today when asking people about political viewpoints and ideology. Except for a few of us who have a genuine passion for the outcome of political agendas, our nation is becoming more and more disinterested with each passing election.
With disinterest comes inaction and the ability for fringe groups to take over the political arena. As the majority of Americans care less, the system of democracy erodes with it, allowing for the more dedicated extremist groups to take the reigns as if no one is watching. For this reason, Americans must remain vigilant and educated on political matters.
What is the reason for our national political disconnect? First and foremost is the decay of political education in our schools. Yes, many elementary classrooms hang pictures of our founding fathers, Old Glory and the U.S. Constitution. But I must ask the question, are they there because they are part of the curriculum, or merely leftover relics from generations past?
It is no surprise that involvement in politics begins with a proper education in civics and government. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case in our schools (Maine included). Across the country, in an effort to provide our youth with a better understanding of the world, our own history and governmental processes are given less attention, or removed from the curriculum altogether.
With students heading off to college and the “real world” with a lack of knowledge in how and why we do the things we do, they are overwhelmed, intimidated and uninterested in their role in our government. We need to re-implement U.S. History, Government and Political Science classes at all stages of elementary and secondary education, and they must be mandatory.
In addition to the lack of proper education, a basic lack of trust and feeling of powerlessness has driven people away from politics. Over the years, politicians have attained a negative stigma people’s trust in the government, and politicians, has eroded.
Americans from coast to coast appear to have given up hope. Instead of changing what they don’t like, they adopt the “I’m only one vote out of millions” mentality. This mentality is a virus that has plagued the people of the United States for years, and grows only stronger in a political climate dominated by Trumps and Clintons.
As a people, we must be reminded that we are the true caretakers of this great nation, that we are her sole reason for existence and that politicians are merely loudspeakers for our voices.
In the coming election cycles, we must refocus on educating our populous and rallying them to the cause of civil action in our local communities, state and nation. A group of educated citizens that are determined to get involved in the health and direction of our government are a force to be reckoned with.
If people are upset with what they hear on the news regarding scandal, congressional gridlock, or even that the park down the road that has not been maintained, the only way to create positive change is to become the change. We can no longer sit idly by, expecting others to stand on our behalf while the place we love so much is facing new struggles in a changing world. American citizens must become involved once again in the direction of this country.
Ignorance is not bliss; ignorance destroys even the greatest of nations.