As the 2016 presidential election unfolds, I’ve had a number of issues weighing heavily on my mind. We have a big election coming up, and we are called upon to voice our opinions and cast our votes. But do we really know what we are voting for?
This is where I take issue. This whole idea of doing research and thinking for yourself. It seems to me that there is an overwhelming lack of freethinkers in my generation. I’ve noticed this especially in college. I’m talking about people who spout off political rhetoric that they saw on Twitter, but couldn’t hold a conversation about politics for more than two minutes. I’m talking about people who belligerently try to force their “ideals” onto other people, but couldn’t tell you in detail what it is they actually stand for.
I’m writing this because I want to see more people construct their own ideals without having another person or specific media group do their thinking for them.
Logic and reasoning should always help determine what you stand for. Now, logic and reasoning leads different people to different conclusions. But isn’t that what makes this country great? In the United States of America, you have the freedom to form your own opinions, and to voice those opinions. So take advantage of that freedom! But make sure that your opinion truly is your own.
I’ve seen far too many people conforming to ideals that they have little to no knowledge about, both conservative and liberal. You may lean one way or the other, but you should never limit yourself by succumbing to ideological purity. My point is that you should actually believe in what you say, and to think critically about the meaning and implications of what you are saying.
Take for example, two candidates currently in the presidential race, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. I’ve talked to Bernie Sanders supporters who’ve told me they’re voting for him because he’s “for the people, by the people.” But that’s really all they said. Well what does that mean? It’s a fun, cliché line to say, but what does it really mean? What specifically about his plans do you like? That’s usually where the conversation ends. And then there’s Donald Trump. Trump supporters have told me things like “he just speaks the truth, tells it like it is.” Okay, well what truth is that? Have your looked deeply into his specific plans? Do you really know what he stands for? Again, the conversation tends to stop at this point.
It is so important to know what you stand for. Blindly following a certain set of ideals without knowing what those ideals actually are does not help us progress as a country. Dive deeper and consider different points of view. Debate is an essential part of what makes America great, but a certain amount of civility needs to be in place. I’ve seen far too many people form rash conclusions about the ethics of others, just because they have different views.
Vehemently dismissing another person’s opinion simply because it’s not your own is not a healthy debate. It’s demeaning in a way that discourages people from ever sharing their thoughts again. Whenever you’re having a debate with another person, you should always take a moment to consider that the other person may be right. If you’re just biding your time until you can speak again, there’s really no point in having a debate at all. I don’t have to agree with you, and you certainly don’t have to agree with me, but we should both wholeheartedly support each other’s right to voice our opinions.
So this election season, I would only ask that you think for yourself. Your vote is important, but it’s absolutely critical that you know exactly what you are voting for. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions. But make sure those opinions are unapologetically yours.