In 2021 America, the country sits as the most divided it’s been in years. People are fighting on two sides for different kinds of justice. With a president who encourages riots and violence, we can finally see the power he holds over the people who follow him.
In the days leading up to Democratic president elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, the violence of the far right has become overwhelming. Republican President Donald Trump has consistently said that the election was stolen from the republicans and that the democratic process had failed him. With these opinions being flooded into the heads of his followers through Twitter and other media, people decided to take to the capitol to speak their minds.
On January 6, 2021, what was advertised as a March for Trump quickly became a riot and terrorist attack. People broke into the senate building through windows and doors putting everyone inside at risk. There was complete chaos and violence on this day in history. A poor understanding of politics is likely to have had influence over these acts, and it is essential to our nation to educate to a point that’s higher than a basic understanding of our systems.
Students in high school, who will soon become voters and part of the voice for the United States, are often uneducated on the systems we follow as a country. Even if they are educated, there is a strong sense of not wanting to hear the opinions from the other side.
According to the Nation’s Report Card in 2010, 64 percent of 12th grade students scored at or above basic for their understanding of civics which is two percent less than 2006. It’s also important to point out that senior students scoring below a basic understanding has increased by two percent in the same timeline. This is further showing that while as politics are becoming more heated and a larger part of our daily lives, students’ understanding of the system is decreasing. This is dangerous for the future of our country that right now, is in a shaky spot.
Schools have a responsibility to educate so that there is a stronger voice for younger voters.
Students and young adults are becoming more involved in politics but are less informed about the basic systems in place. From 2014 to 2018, the voter turnout of 18 to 29 year olds jumped from 20 percent to 36 percent according to the United States Census Bureau.
In the age of technology, we have the ability to learn anything about our government and politics that we want, it just takes the right questions. Schools should be concerned about the decreasing rates of understanding in civics and should increase not only budget, but the resources for the ways to teach students information they will need to create opinions all throughout their lives as American citizens.
Young adults have an equal responsibility. They should rely not only on the school to educate them, but they must know how to find the information they are missing, which is where the internet comes in. There is a lot of information online, especially for politics, that it can be overwhelming and hard to tell what is true, unbiased and useful. Teaching for an understanding of how to get credible sources on the internet and form an opinion from multiple sources is a must in the school system.
Similarly to learning about the facts, there has to be an emotional connection to politics as well. Young adults must analyze ethically what is important to them and the wellbeing of our citizens. Understanding the moral implications while reading through sources is of the utmost importance to build a credible and strong opinion.
While there are many different political parties, Democrats and Republicans must decide what’s important to them and what fundamental ideas expressed in the constitution hold power over others. In the 2020 election, young voters spoke out on what was important to them when considering who to vote for. According to CNBC interviews with college students, affordable health care, closing the racial wage gap, minimizing student debt and career outlook in the middle of a depression are some of the most important moral issues to young voters.
As we move forward together as a country, we must focus on the education of students and young adults to prepare them for the political world they will be entering. Having educated voters that can build opinions based on fact and morals is required to make the United States move forward and come to a point of peace.