A Teenager’s Advice to the America She is (grudgingly) a Part of

Well, hello everyone! It’s nice to see you in this scintillating pile of nonsense we call the Internet.

I could launch into a long, drawn out explanation for my absence, but I think I can sum up everything in one sentence: life is stressful. I am pounded by deadlines and commitments, standardized testing, civic duties, etc etc. But I’m back, and ready to dive off the deep end.

I’m getting political. 

No matter which country you live in, discussions of politics usually end poorly. America is no exception; in fact, it’s often the best example of contentious voters. It doesn’t help that American citizens are woefully out of touch with reality. (Personally I will never forget when Jimmy Fallon asked a middle-aged man where the Gaza Strip was and he responded with “West Hollywood.”) Any number of surveys will show you Americans don’t know how their government operates. And any online comment will show you why that ignorance is a problem.

 

Example A: (an eight paragraph comment written on a left-leaning news website, dated 26th September 2016. Despite being a creative writer, I couldn’t make this up if I tried.)

“Please Trump, wipe the floor with that witch! She deserves nothing better after getting soldiers killed, lying to everyone, supporting Islamic extremists, etc.

For those who want Clinton to win because it will be better for women are greatly confused, don’t judge the book by the cover. She may be a woman (may) but she supports shariah law, and that is about as bad as it gets for women.

For those voting for her because they think Trump is mean, or a homo/islam/transaphobe you are also very uneducated in what Trump really is for. Trump has given his OWN money to help those in need, including the military while Clinton ignores the family of the soldiers she is responsible for the deaths of.

… (insert five more paragraphs in a similar vein)

And to top it off Clinton is mentally ill.”

I refuse to insult anyone’s intelligence on here–I’m taking Michelle Obama’s advice and “going high”– but I can point out that this comment is composed of unproven accusations. And that’s why I’m scared for America; we don’t know how to have an open, fact-driven discussion.

I dare you to scroll through the YouTube comments on the first debate and find a political comment with sources. With a statistic or fact to support an opinion. With a response that isn’t hate from a supporter of the other candidate. That doesn’t insult the commentator’s intelligence. Go on, I dare you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=855Am6ovK7s

It’s a near impossible task. Both parties are brimming with hateful voters. If a Trump supporter rattles off something about Hillary’s emails, a Hillary supporter responds with, “you’re a racist idiot.” If a Hillary supporter describes Trump’s inherent misogyny, a Trump supporter will call them a lying crybaby and dredge up Bill Clinton’s past.

What America needs is to discuss policy and principles. To listen closely to discussions on policy. To decide whether the moral and political principles of each candidate align with the future we see for our country. How exactly does Trump plan on controlling immigration? What is Hillary’s tax plan? Are their plans vague and nonsensical or are they feasible? Why is that? Deciding who to vote for should be based on a marriage of fact and feeling. Use fact to determine the plans of each candidate and feeling to ascertain whether you feel those plans are right.

And yes, it’s easier to hurl insults at supporters of the other candidate. I’m a relatively calm person and I have screamed at my television during debates. Reading comments on political editorials makes me want to gouge out my eyes with the pointy side of my Barack pin. When I hear someone I respect is voting for Trump, I start to question their morals.

That doesn’t mean I should actively feed into the animosity. I have my reasons for supporting Hillary, and if someone calmly asks me what they are, I will be more than happy to share them. That is discourse.

Shrieking accusations, true or untrue, will only cause one set of voters to vilify their ‘rivals.’ Although some voters seem truly ‘deplorable,’ we shouldn’t waste our venom. Firstly, they are unphased by logic, but, more importantly, marginalized people are more likely to become violent and target others. Our country is already divided– between different genders, races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations. These divisions already threaten America’s safety, already make young people like me fear for their futures.

So, this teenager’s advice?

We need discourse, not discord.

Arm yourself with knowledge and your convictions. Once we find Americans arming themselves with hate, it’s not long before we find them arming themselves with guns.

 

 

 

(This two o’clock post is brought to you by the inadvisable combination of chocolate and John Oliver videos at half one. Learn from my mistakes.)

 

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