Young voters are often mere regurgitators — blindly echoing the opinions of those closest to them. I was no different in 2012, as the judgments of my family and friends — baseless or merited — swayed my decision on my preferred candidate far more than they should have.
I was finally old enough to vote in the presidential election, but I wasn’t prepared enough to vote and feel good about whom I had chosen to lead the country.
In 2012, I found myself solely repeating the tiny factoids or rumors I picked up in conversation. Not only did the lack of research on my end ultimately influence my decision, but my recycling of those conversations could have influenced somebody else’s decision. I suffered from a lack of information in the last election and had nobody to blame but myself.
As the 2016 presidential election rapidly approaches, I urge all the novice voters — like myself — to think for yourself, research for yourself and ultimately, vote for yourself.
Growing up in a home that had relaxed political conversations, every time an opinion on a candidate or their policy came up, I adopted it as my own immediately. This is a common theme among adolescent voters who will walk into a booth for the first time in November. I am a firm believer that your complaints about an issue are unwarranted if you don’t attempt to rectify them. This stands for exercising your right to vote as well. So go vote and enjoy the foundation and framework our country was built on.
I’d encourage all of you to not make the mistake I did and regurgitate adopted opinions heard from somebody else and translate that into a vote. Rather, join me in sifting through the political jargon on television, the Internet and in conversation to develop your own opinion.
Read analyses on a fundamental platform issue from multiple news outlets to gain the best possible understanding of a candidate’s proposed course of action if elected. Take tests online to see which candidate’s policies best align with your values, whatever they may be. Watch the debates from start to finish, not solely the short clippings in which tempers flare. Research the political backgrounds of each candidate, see what they have done have on a smaller scale. This can serve as a telling indicator of how they might affect positive change from the Oval Office.
Go ahead and absorb the “hero brand” channels like CNN and FOX, but do your part and take a look at different outlets. Just because a newspaper or website has a smaller audience and reach does not mean they are less credible than the marquee networks. Don’t shy away from international outlets, too. On issues pertaining to foreign policy, perhaps a foreign source could prove some valuable insight.
Smear campaign ads are rampant in today’s news and often talking points of conversation. Some advice that I have been given is try to prevent negative attack ads from dominating your opinion of someone. Additionally, do not let the bias-positive ideas stemming from a candidate’s own campaign dominate your decision. Do research and find concrete information about what a political figure has done or neglected to do — those are the factors and statistics that should drive your decision.
Maybe it was embedded in me from my relaxed upbringing when it came to politics, but I am the furthest thing from a political junkie. Up until this election, I never watched a debate start to finish. Now that I am older, my priorities have shifted from strictly switching to Netflix or ESPN when a debate is on to actually watching the debate.
What I care about is my own effort and the efforts voters put in to voice their opinion. Whomever you choose, make sure you feel good about who you’re voting for — not just to please the peanut gallery.
Michael Reiner, ’16, is an associate sports editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]