Hundreds of years before the founding of the United States of America, Christopher Columbus set sail with high hopes for his voyage. Inscribed on his ships was the phrase, “Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.” Now, perhaps more than ever, we have need to leave the “Old World” yet again. Once free of the mental shackles of the past, we can more effectively evaluate the present. Specifically, we can ask and answer questions regarding the current political climate in the United States. What are its driving forces and most significant factors? What is the current state of affairs domestically, really like? These questions are far too infrequently asked and rationally considered. When noting the lack of substantial and easily digestible political information provided to the citizenry, a casual observer of the current US political climate would have good reason to wonder about whether there is a missing link between the intelligentsia and the rest of the public.
Every generation has its most memorable figureheads and most poignant moments. Often, such people and events reflect the best and brightest of humanity at the time. Not afraid to be martyrs, hopeful leaders emerge and courageously usher the people into a bright new future. Their antitheses however, are those who are less emboldened by the prospect of positively influencing society, and are considerably more concerned with their individual social spheres and economic well beings. Currently, the political situation in the United States admits the prevalence of the latter while providing little to assuage the former. Consequently, we are trapped in a negatively brewing political atmosphere pandering to the lowest (but admittedly, perhaps the most powerful) common denominator: the emotions of the masses.
Ask someone their thoughts about the current policies, politicians, and procedures employed, specifically at the federal level, and an overwhelming majority of people will reply with “their” opinions. Yes, they are stating opinions by regurgitating the last thing heard on some partisan show, or by espousing the beliefs they were given by someone else (even ideas that are blatantly irrational) but such opinions are not necessarily their own. In many cases, the query may remain suspended in the unanswered nexus of their apathy, confusion, and political ignorance. Who can blame them? While political players further dishonor themselves and the nation with candidential mudslinging during highly publicized elections, the government’s reactionary policies undermine the populace’s desired hope for a simple good life and a progressive future. Thus, politics becomes a popularity contest because the real crux of the mainstream issues, that most deeply affect every member of society, are ignored and those in power pander to the fleeting whims of the proletariat.
At first glance, topics like Immigration, Education, Taxes, the Economy, Gun Control, Health Care, Same-Sex Marriage, Foreign Policy, Climate Change, and Women’s Rights sound like solid political issues. It is no wonder that according to Google Trends, as of November 13th, 2015, they are the ten most popular 2016 political searches(in order from most popular to the least). While these issues are extremely important, the political and media methodologies employed to discuss and provide avenues for solutions are severely lacking. Public political discourse has seemingly become more about band-aid fixes rather than sustainable solutions.
Such misguided levity of nature, with regard to serious political situations, is further influenced by the fact that we live in the “Digitally Globalized Age.” This means that while we are provided with instant access to more politically pertinent information than we could digest in a single lifetime, our perspective must grow in order to accommodate technological expansion and global inclusion. The U.S. is swiftly becoming part of the new humanized world. Everyone would benefit greatly from the relinquishing of our tight-fisted grip on eroded ideals that threaten to further degrade the political climate into a smattering of charged opinions yielding very little sustainable repercussions. Our political ideologies should reflect the necessity of such growth yet, based on current results, they do not. Even with throngs of information waiting for us in cyberspace, it is difficult to escape the heavy hand of pre-made media decisions and spin. A reader rarely has the opportunity to form their own educated opinions because so few are actually well-informed enough to engage in a dialogue about current events. Through open dialogue and action comes change.
Imagine for a moment how drastically different the political climate could look if the same constituents who have the power to elect officials with their voting choices actually thought and conducted research for themselves. Regardless of one’s political persuasion, the real key to creating a brighter future lies in the ability of the masses to employ their reason to shirk the goggles of media influence. We should not only see politics through the astigmatic lens of partisanship. Once we sift through the propaganda and fear tactics of most mainstream media outlets, it becomes possible to be rid of the imposed shortsighted view of politics as being a glorified popularity contest and a nest for those trying to consolidate and retain a particular level of status and power. Only then can the issues which are bogging down the nation be adequately addressed.
All ten of the previously stated political topics are important to varying degrees. The problem is that the all consuming ferocity with which these topics are debated seems designed to, on the surface, placate merely the vocal majority. Beneath the surface, those who see through the fraudulent and distracting nature of many media brandished policies of late, allow their discontent to smolder rather than ignite. So the question remains: Who or what will be symbolic of our light of day? How will we be led into a brighter and more fulfilling future? Perhaps more importantly, what will happen if such a guide never appears as we stand on the threshold of possibilities?
Sources: http://www.gallup.com/poll/183164/economy-trumps-foreign-affairs-key-2016-election-issue.aspx, https://www.google.com/trends/story/c5c95ce9-6b74-4939-b112-57e405ef0109, http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/06/29/whats-the-top-issue-for-2016-depends-where-you-look