Political Pressure: Where students get their political beliefs

By Jessa Glassman ’20
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Eugean Choi ’21 / Spectrum

With the upcoming election, opinions are everywhere. This happens especially in an academic environment where we investigate and discuss topics from different points of view. Often students can feel overwhelmed with influences coming at them from a thousand different directions, like from their parents, teachers, friends or even the media.

Too often students talk about politics in school, yet their conversations only include a supported candidate and no substantive topic analysis. Students often repeat things that they hear from influences, which can be problematic when it prevents them from forming their own views and opinions. In an online survey sent to the Middle School, 72% of the 351 respondents said that their parents are one of their biggest influences, and an additional 38% said the media. Young people who are on social media are confronted with everything from memes to rant-like posts which can include untrue or exaggerated facts from biased parties. These forms of influence come from all angles and influence our thoughts on every candidate. Most people who read something online or hear it from someone they trust believe it is factual right off the bat; however, they often don’t recognize that what they are hearing or reading may hold a bias.

In a survey, students talked about the importance of forming independent political opinions.

“It is important to expose yourself to all candidates or issues and make decisions for yourself. You also need to be aware of the benefits and repercussions of certain policies that you have an opinion on,” Siji Smolev ’22 said in the survey.

Not so surprisingly, political opinions are not a genetic trait or trait inherent to any specific detail. This means that just because a student’s parents identify in one party or feel a certain way about a candidate, the student does not have to feel the same way. It also means that just because they live in an area that is swayed toward one party or candidate they do not have to support the same views. Political views are something that should be determined individually. And because of this people need to learn to be accepting of other’s views and not make them feel lesser for believing what they do.

It is crucial for our generation to familiarize ourselves not only with current topics, but also with what each party stands for. 82% of respondents said they feel like they do not fully understand the political climate. By becoming educated on current political happenings they can successfully find a place for themselves and form their own opinions. Avoiding blind agreement with others does not mean one should not respect and listen to others’ opinions. It is an important skill to be able to recognize and hear other people’s thoughts and then respond, to show respect for what someone else is saying, to build of their opinions and expand political knowledge.

Survey respondents talked about the importance of being clear on political views.

“During this controversial year in politics, it is important to understand the views of candidates as well as fully understanding your own philosophy concerning politics,” Michael Lehrhoff ’20 said in the survey.

94% of the survey respondents think that it is important to be socially involved in the political world at this point in their lives; however, only 75% of them would actually vote during this election. Many people think that this election will have an impact on their lives, and that it is important that the we become knowledgeable about political topics and are incentive to vote in the future. Voting is a right and all citizens should exercise it to stand up for something they believe in, regardless of the opinion of others.

In the survey, students spoke about the recognizable duty to become politically educated.

“I believe that as the next generation that will be working and contributing to this nation, we should be aware of who is leading this country and the policies that shape our government. Active children transition into better educated adults, who will make better decisions when electing any sort of leader. By educating the children of today, we are making the fully informed adults of tomorrow,” Andy Seol ’22 said in the survey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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