Three Steps to Being More Politically Aware

If you’re reading this, you have decided or are open to the idea of choosing to be more politically aware. Of course, you are aware of the past year’s election and how, as a result, we are officially falling to pieces as a country. But you now want to unplug your nose to smell the rotting dumpster fire of a government tearing this country apart. Perhaps it’s because you’re a martyr. Or maybe you just want to know how you can help. But as millennials, whatever happens in our country affects us the most, so either way I’m here to help.

The first step to becoming more politically aware is to learn. This is obvious. But if you’re like me, you don’t want to spend hours of your time researching and reading and researching more things to read. It’s tedious, takes too long, can become confusing after a while, and can be extremely emotionally disheartening. The best way to get your political news is to integrate it into the way that you already do.

The next step is to listen. Once you know the issues that are the most prevalent in the United States, you will most likely choose a side on each topic you encounter. That’s great. But one of the most dangerous things that happens when you have a side is that the other side is seen as the “enemy.” While other opinions oppose yours, this does not mean that the people who believe in some of those other sides are against you personally. Depending on your various identities, you will definitely be justified in hating a person or group who is against who you are as a person; you cannot be expected to be a person of color and also be okay with interacting with racists, especially when your personal safety is at risk. But there are certain issues where you can believe strongly in your opinion and what is right, while also not closing yourself off to at least listening to, learning about, and attempting to understand the perspective of those who disagree with you. You are not wrong for not shifting your opinion after interacting with people with whom you disagree.

The last step is to be active. Whatever you believe in, believe in it firmly. If the rights of those you side with are being infringed upon, do something. And if you have any kind of privilege, use it for good. Sure cultural capital is a nice thing to be able to pull out at parties to impress your Poly Sci friends, but it is far more powerful when it is put to good use to create real change.