OPINION: A Divided Country


In 2004, when President Bush was elected for a second term, I sat on the couch in a run-down house where I lived with 5-6 other people and watched as the country decided that more of the same was what felt safe at the time. Of course, I felt disappointment, but since I couldn’t really identify with John Kerry, I took it in stride.

During that election cycle, Barack Obama emerged on my radar and I, like many young people, found him to be everything Bush wasn’t. I knew he would be president when I heard him speak. I didn’t know when, but I knew that would happen.

In 2008, when President Obama was elected for his first term, I sat on my friend’s couch and watched as the country changed forever.  I was a twenty-something college student during Bush’s second term and was heavily influenced by the worsening economy, liberal arts environment, and on-going war. Everything that I stood for went against this president’s agenda. Then, along came Barack Obama, who was charismatic, intelligent, organized, and who spoke to my generation.

At that moment, the divisions in this country got deeper. Subsequently, in 2012 when he was elected again, they worsened. Now, is it a coincidence that his election and the worsening division happened the exact year that social media became a “thing”? Maybe.

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While flipping through the major news outlets tonight, I stumbled upon an interview on MSNBC with two students from Parkland, Florida. I was immediately struck by these two young women and the message they are sending out into the world.

#NeverAgain is a movement born in Parkland as a response to the most recent school shootings to plague the United States. The students in Parkland have been very vocal since the shooting last week and are organizing a march in Washington, D.C.

This isn’t the first that I’d heard of these students, as a matter of fact, one of these young women tweeted the President last week and I was extremely impressed with her composure. This is, however, the first that I had heard that the students were organizing. How fantastic?!

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OPINION: Respect


As a teenager in the early 2000s, I had political “opinions”. Well, I thought I had political opinions, but really they were just regurgitations of things I’d picked up at home mixed with some basic feelings on social issues.

One time, my uncle came to visit and called me out on these “opinions” and I became upset because, in all honesty, I didn’t really have any foundation to base these opinions on. I didn’t know much about the government or politics at the time and most of my “opinions” came from strong feelings. These feelings register now as just a general sense of social awareness and became the foundation for my interest in politics.

However, these weak “opinions” and my unease when attempting to defend them taught me a few very important lessons:

  1. If you don’t know something, say so.
  2. Research your side and defend it.
  3. Be open to civil discourse.
  4. Respect your opponent.

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