By Tennessee Tribune Intern Robert Neal
Youth engagement in politics is imperative to any society, and leaders should strive to improve the political landscape so the young people can participate effectively. As a recent high school graduate, I realize that I too, should be at the forefront of political discourse. The millennials and generation XYZ students are the next generation of political leaders with new, innovative ideas on how our community and nation should function. It’s a civic duty to take up the mantle as future politicians and changemakers. Yet many of my fellow peers are unwilling to engage in political discourse because of confusion and negativity. This is astounding considering the political activism in which young people engage in on a national scale.
While we are politically active; we’re not discussing our ideas. We’re simply demanding them and socially ostracizing any opposition. This activity has simply become a form of mere activism. This has caused an upheaval of polarization in the currently bilateral political spectrum. As we take to the streets our concerns are thrust into the spotlight through protest. Which is perfectly understandable, as citizens protesting is an integral part of our existence. Yet after we make our concerns known we tend to demand immediate completion of our goals. We enact political campaigns to attack the character and integrity of the opposition, instead of debating their ideas. However, we are not totally responsible for this behavior as it has been ingrained into us by our political predecessors who need to do better.
Massive media corporations and internet media with their pundits and journalists have contributed to this situation along with our esteemed politicians through incessant political dogfights and social media tirades. Through continuous misrepresentation of information (and sometimes outright lies), coupled with the attitude of how they present the information. Every idea of the opposing political faction is a threat to the citizens’ liberty, or prosperity, or is a “human rights” violation or that the “other side” just wouldn’t and couldn’t ever understand, or in the use of a statement which been frequently used that they’re “morally” wrong.
As a newcomer to politics this seeps into the fabric of our society and the minds of young people who are typically politically inexperienced. We take cues from our elders and fashion ourselves through their example. Thus, which has produced disastrous results in its wake. We no longer seek civil political discussions but shouting matches of political bumper sticker phrases. This mentality cannot incur a productive discussion on how to advance forward as a society. It only polarizes us and keeps the progress of the political spectrum static. So, the youth of today and tomorrow and society, must mature in a capacity to promote an exchangement of ideas. This is the only hope to further increase political discourse, and not just political activism.