City Girl Thoughts: Apathy Is Not A Political Party

I usually try not to be too political on here but with all the talk of voter fatigue in my home state, I am slightly concerned about how the operations of other states are faring as the midterms elections approach. Below are my thoughts on what it means to be involved in politics and the reasons why I believe it is important. As always, I encourage appropriate and respectful discussion in the comment box below…

"Don't look back. You're not going that way."
“Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.”

Sometimes I wonder how much people in my generation really care about current issues. When BuzzFeed and The Colbert Report becomes a primary source for news to one of my friends over The Associated Press and CNN, I get a little concerned that the next generation of “likely voters” is more than a little detached from the seriousness that is our future. I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone here that I’m a self-declared political operative. (But if it is, apologies. I’ll try and be less subtle.) That being the case, I feel that as a twenty-something, the hot topics of current pending legislation could significantly (and in some cases, adversely) affect the lives of my parents, siblings, friends and future children which makes me more than anxious as young adult who faces some significant changes in my not-too-distant future.

The secret to being politically active seems simple enough; having enough of an educated opinion on an issue that isn’t inspired by discriminatory bias and the willingness to engage others in conversation. Outside of that, any canvassing, phone-banking or signature gathering you do is more or less a supplemental action based on your level of engagement. Of course voting is important and necessary, (as is the field work and fundraising that is required to build up to a successful election day,) but as I have seen through my recent campaign work and political experience, the momentum that gets a campaign or candidate or incumbent (re)-elected is started with simple conversations.

Imagine if your rent doubled. Annoying right? Now try imagining if that were to happen to the interest rate on your students loans...
Imagine if your rent doubled. Annoying right? Now try imagining life if that were to happen to the interest rate on your students loans…

I fear that a lot of my friends who weren’t Poli-Sci majors or haven’t stumbled upon politics through networking don’t seem to understand that women’s rights, civil rights and gay rights are all the same thing (see also: human rights). I dread that America is raising a generation of selfish and ignorant youth who won’t bother themselves with understanding the need for funding and innovation so that neighbors in other parts of the state, country and world have access and resources to live healthy and prosperous lives. I’m annoyed that my health and wellness could cost me more money than that of my father or brother simply because I’m a woman and some members of Congress don’t philosophically agree with keeping my healthcare up to the same standards as theirs.

In short, it’s  not even necessarily about agreeing on all of the same issues but rather, having the capacity to express oneself through dialogue. Its about participating in the conversation, being involved and being a part of something bigger than yourself that could one day impact the way you, or those around you, live. I don’t think its a lot to see a newspaper headline and ask yourself, “how do I feel about that?” Chances are that prices are hurting you at the pump, you wish your job paid more to help you pay off those student loans more quickly or you long for the day when your rural community has town-wide wireless internet so you can work away from your desk without needing dial-up. If so, you’re already less indifferent than you think and as  I like to say, “If you can think it, you can do it”.

"One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns."-John Oliver Daily Show correspondent
“One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns.”John Oliver, Daily Show correspondent

The midterm elections are coming up all over the country. In Massachusetts, the race is on to fill Ed Markey‘s Congressional seat and Boston will soon be electing a new mayor. Issues relating to education reform, minimum wage increase and public safety will undoubtedly inspire a lot of conversation among residents across the state, region and country. Even if you haven’t declared your party affiliation, I would at least encourage you to be engaged. Elections like these will determine a lot about what transpires in our communities and as citizens we share in the responsibility of being aware and informed. If you’re reading this, all I ask is that you start having conversations with your peers about issues that matter to you because nobody ever ran for office as an Apathetic and no should live their life as one.

xo, Vanessa

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Vanessa M. Gatlin

-Blogger, dancer, fashionista -Self proclaimed "political junkie" with a strong interest in international affairs -2011 graduate of Emmanuel College in Boston

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