On Tuesday, March 3, known by many as Super Tuesday, voters from 14 different states took to the ballot boxes and cast their votes in the 2020 presidential primary. Since Tuesday, two more candidates from the Democratic party have ended their campaigns, leaving three candidates remaining (as of March 6): Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Tulsi Gabbard. While there are contenders against Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, none have shown much promise; thus, Trump is essentially guaranteed the Republican nomination.
A thought that crosses a lot of people’s minds when it comes to politics is one of panic. There are too many options, too much to learn about, too many people to know and not enough time to learn about it. In this panic, it seems like an easy option to freeze—to completely give up, ignore politics and not vote. If I don’t know anything about policies and I’m not educated or up to date on what each candidate believes, I should not be an irresponsible citizen and cast a vote for someone I don’t know anything about.
Although you shouldn’t vote for someone you don’t know anything about, not voting is not the best response to your fear. Not voting is admitting that you are willing to accept the United States the way it is right now, which is unlikely regardless of which side of the aisle you sit on. The best thing you can do is to educate yourself on what you believe and which candidate lines up best with your political views.
The best way to start is by visiting websites of candidates seeking their party’s nomination. There you can find information on what issues each candidate wants to address and how they want to address them. You can also find background information on each candidate (their story, how long they have been involved in politics, etc.) and ways to promote or donate to each campaign. Each website will also have a calendar of events for those who are interested in attending a campaign rally or canvassing event. Candidates want voters to know what they stand for, and they want that information and vision to be accessible.
Another important aspect of becoming politically educated is hearing what other people have to say about the issues at hand and how they would like to see them taken care of. Living in such a politically polarized time can lead to closed minds and ears that refuse to listen. Political conversation can even be seen as taboo. Not everyone sees value in discussing something as divisive as politics with friends for fear of creating tensions. Don’t be afraid to talk to friends and professors about the upcoming election. Do so not in the spirit of trying to change anyone’s mind, but to listen to and learn about other people’s perspectives on what is going on in this country. Through these conversations, we can build an empathetic political community on Hope’s campus that is willing to listen to the other side without being condemning or judgemental.
This empathy is another powerful way to educate yourself on voting. Empathy can help you remember that politics don’t only affect you. Your vote, both in the primary and the upcoming election this November, will help shape the direction of our country, as well as the lives of all Americans, for the next four years. Politics is not something that only affects one or two groups of people—it affects everything we interact with daily. From infrastructure and taxes to immigration and healthcare, politics is the driving force. This year, educate yourself on who you think is the most suitable candidate to improve this country, not only in the way that benefits you but in the way that benefits the country.