OPINION: Being apolitical is pointless
Claiming to be apolitical in the climate that we currently reside in seems to be a way to circumvent the harshities that come along with it. But it is problematic in itself to consciously avoid political responsibility, as it only further highlights the realm of privilege that allows you to avoid politics.
It is somewhat utopian to think that — with the overtly dystopian scare that is the current presidency — that every American citizen would jump on the activism train. And although younger and younger demographics are taking it upon themselves to be politically involved, there is still a large group of young adults that choose to turn a blind eye to the issues at hand.
Common comebacks for not being involved in politics are “I don’t care about politics,” “Politics stress me out” or something along the lines of “It doesn’t matter if I vote or not.”
No matter the political party you align yourself with, the upcoming election is predicted to have a record voter turnout. The high interest coming from both sides forecasts the highest ballot turnout in the past 100 years. According to Fortune, “Catalist, a firm that studies voting practices, predicts that 156 million people will cast ballots in 2020, a major rise from the 139 million that voted in 2016.”
In 2016, 41.6% of eligible voters identified themselves as apolitical and did not exercise their right to vote, according to Everyday Feminism. The issue with claiming to be apolitical is that you are, in many ways, depending on your background and class standing, thus acknowledging your privilege as someone who isn’t immediately impacted by political decisions. Having the ability to be disengaged only works as long as you are able to keep your social blinders stable.
If there is an issue at hand that does not directly affect you — that you do not have to think about on a daily basis — that is a privilege. “Checking your privilege” is a phrase that may seem worn out to those who have it, but its importance is not diluted because of its seemed overuse.
Partisan politics can appear intimidating, but that’s not all that our voting system comes down to. Every single thing you interact with on a daily basis, from road construction to choosing to get married or not, is you taking a political stance. Even in consideration to the things you buy, every major corporation has some sort of political kinship. Your choices as an individual don’t just singularly impact you. Every choice you make impacts the larger system in which you are a part of, willingly or not. Therefore, claiming to be apolitical is more so a mindset rather than a legitimate political standing. Passively or actively, you are promoting political stances whether you want to, whether you are doing so consciously or not.
With this in mind, I am not condemning those who have chosen not to pay attention to and/or actively participate in politics. Rather, I am inviting you to start actively engaging in the world around you.
The fourth Democratic primary debate is coming up on Oct. 15, and with the Republican party’s few candidates bearing underdog to Donald Trump, it is more important than ever to decide where you want your vote to go and why. Many voters know who they are going to support, but the issue is: Why are you supporting that candidate? Start small. With the ever-growing social media presence of political heads, simply following a couple runners is a great start to getting familiar with their stances and plans. From there, do some research on your own before it comes time to vote.
You not only owe it to yourself to become mindful and involved, but also to your peers that may not have the same privilege as you.
Selena Kuikahi is a junior majoring in Film and Law