Opinion: Disinterested youth

Dan Jenkins

Dan Jenkins

Dan Jenkins is a freshman news major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Update: This story has been updated to correct the name of author of this column.

Last week, I attended one of the lectures in the “Dirty Politics” seminar as a requirement for my Principles of Advertising class and extra credit for my American Politics class. When surveying the list of lectures, one jumped out at me called, “Why Can’t We All Get Along?” This appealed to me for two reasons – one, because it was during the time my cancelled advertising class would have been, and two, the title really struck me as something I would find interesting.

The lecture focused on two things: the first being the lack of interest younger people have in political affairs and how to appeal to them, and the second being how uncivil actions in Washington are trickling down into smaller, more local governments. I agreed with both of these ideas, but I feel like there was a link between the two of them that was not as heavily explored as it could have been.

The question I am posing now: Could the childish behavior of politicians, on the local as well as federal levels, be causing young adults to lose interest in current events?

I know I feel this way, and I know a good amount of college students who feel the same way that I do. Everywhere you look, whether it’s on TV, a billboard, or in an advertisement before a YouTube video, all you see are competing politicians running smear campaigns against each other. “Mitt Romney is an insensitive rich bastard!” “Barack Obama is a socialist who is going to run this country into the ground!”

The main focus of all political campaigns is trying to debase your opponent, as well as focus on a few strong issues that will draw people to you and want you to win. That’s why Obama is vocalizing his support for gay marriage, and why Romney is claiming he has all the answers to eliminating the deficit. It’s not even about the issues; it’s more about who can destroy their opponent the fastest.

That is why I choose not to involve myself in political conversations, and why I was hesitant about even writing this column. If I wanted to see two people bicker back and forth over frivolous things, I would go on Facebook and watch two high school girls verbally tear each other apart over some boy they each dated for a week. I won’t vote for someone whose campaign relies solely on destroying his or her opponent.

But I’m not naive enough to ignore the fact that this is what these campaigns strive for: to get people talking and get them angry, pissed off, and furious about the terrible things each candidate is doing or has done. Talk may be cheap, but it definitely does buy a lot of votes if you play your cards right. So in this sense, it is effective.

I know this probably won’t change anything, but I think the world would be much better if politicians just focused on all the issues, rather than a specific few issues and committing slander on a public scale. I know it’d make me a lot more interested in current events.