Being politically aware can be exhausting. The struggle of remaining well-informed about what is going on in the world entails subjecting yourself to frequent barrages of information from all biases and prejudices. Remaining objective in an atmosphere of partisan reporting, political “bubbles,” and occasionally unpleasant interactions can be difficult and a little overwhelming at times.
Whether or not you consider yourself politically involved, keeping up with current events may often feel like it's more trouble than it's worth. Today in particular, as we face the repercussions of an outdated electoral college system in addition to record-high levels of dissatisfaction with our elected representatives, I often find myself feeling disillusioned with the state of political affairs and my place in it.
The current political climate is perhaps the most staunchly divided it’s been in decades. Personally, I have witnessed family strife and friendships fall apart because of the tumultuous 2016 election. Partisan political disputes litter social media accounts, surfacing at every click. Millennials in particular face criticism for “bandwagon activism.” Our empathetic concerns cause many to be reduced to “snowflakes” who possess a desire to live only within “safe spaces” and not have to face conflicting opinions.
The reality, however, is that young people—especially first-time voters—are far more aware of the complexity of current issues than they’re given credit for. Never before in our recent history has the arena of politics become so alarmingly personal to a vast number of different communities. We choose to educate ourselves on positions and policies because they matter to ourselves, our peers, and our loved ones.
The calls for radical change and the weaponization of hateful rhetoric, which were prevalent throughout the 2016 presidential election and have continued in the first months of the current administration, strike legitimate fear into the hearts of those who now find themselves even further marginalized. For those of us who remain largely unaffected by certain policy changes, many are still rightfully outraged at the treatment and attitudes toward those who are negatively affected. Even as we stand in solidarity with others, what could be more disheartening than to feel so utterly powerless at times? With others constantly working to delegitimize our opinions and experiences, we might find ourselves wondering: What’s the point?
Here's the thing: We are making a difference.
We saw the warning signs. We educated ourselves. We took our positions, and we stand by them.
While some may accuse us of oversimplifying issues or allowing ourselves to be blinded by confirmation bias, we will consistently prove them wrong if we display a commitment to finding the real facts and serving as agents for real change. For example, the newly elected UGBC President and Vice President, Akosua Achampong and Tt King, both MCAS '18, campaigned on a progressive platform that encompassed inclusivity and a true dedication to speaking up for underrepresented voices in the BC community. Leslie Templeton, MCAS '20, began an initiative to offer housing for students in light of the recent travel ban. Many BC students joined over 175,000 other people to take part in the Boston women’s march last month. Open-minded political discussions have also materialized in residence halls, in coffee shops, and in classrooms.
Despite the exhaustion that can accompany constant vigilance and dedication, in the long run, it just might be for the best. We are becoming a new generation of highly informed and active voters. Many have even stepped up their game from mere social justice activism to venture into the realm of politics. Ultimately, as the population of well-informed citizens grows in size and moves on into “the real world,” the more power they will have to affect truly positive change. We just have to remember to keep an open mind, continue to assert our priorities, and remain engaged in the process.