The 2016 election was an election that shocked the United States. Many people were confused as to how Trump became elected despite his scandals and lack of political experience. Earlier that year, there was a movement in Britain to leave the European Union, famously known as Brexit. Strangely enough, there is a commonality between the Brexit movement and Trump’s presidential campaign: Cambridge Analytica, a data company. Not only does this documentary, The Great Hack, investigate the intrusive role of this company in Brexit and the 2016 U.S. election, but it also raises awareness about the right to own your own data. As for myself, I found myself watching with awe and horror how big companies had so much leverage in determining the future of a nation by using our data.
Here’s a trailer if you’re interested in The Great Hack:
Experience: Vice president during Obama’s presidency, a Senator from Delaware
The first issue to tackle: Defeating Donald Trump
Most significant idea: Climate change plan consisting of investing in clean energy research, building new electric car charging stations, expanding high-speed rail, and rejoining the Paris Climate Accords as well as eliminating Trump’s tax cuts and subsidies for the oil industry
Who funds the Candidate: Law firms, insurance companies, and large individual donations
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it” –Aristotle
From technological advances and scientific discoveries to controversial politics and social progress– we are witnessing history in the making. The significant increase in social media and other platforms in the past 15 years allow us to access sources and opinions from people of all backgrounds. However, I have noticed a problem within the fibers of our media-centered country:
I think people have forgotten what an opinion is and why we, as citizens of a democracy, are entitled to have one.
An opinion is a view formed about something that does not necessarily have to be based on fact or knowledge. However, in today’s society, we need to focus more on supporting our opinions with facts as well as respecting those who have different perspectives than we do. People typically formulate opinions and ideas based on their own backgrounds and views. Therefore, we tend to forget that our own lives are different from others. Opinions are typically relative to one’s own socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, and the people surrounding them.
Your opinion is subject to change based on your values and experiences. So, you should learn how to properly create your own opinions at a young age in order to remain well-informed in a nation that appears to be unable to agree on anything.
How to Create Your Well-Informed Opinion: Do the Research!
The first step you should take in order to categorize your primary attitude towards politics is to figure out where you lie within the political spectrum.
Here’s a Crash Course that explains what Political Ideology is and what your’s may be:
Second, it is necessary to research all aspects of the political spectrum as well as other religions in order to fully understand other people’s values and beliefs. Being ignorant only creates more bias. Over time, bias can turn into hate. It is okay to disagree with one another. But, it is better to have at least a foundational knowledge of many cultures, religions and political labels in order to be able to create your own ideas.
Having a calm and well-informed conversation with those who disagree with you is much more productive than name-calling and assuming they are “wrong.” These discussions will enable you to either further solidify your own beliefs, or, at the very least, begin understanding others’ perspectives.
A part of being a mature and fair individual is respecting the beliefs and values of others, even if some people embody everything that you disagree with.
Keep in mind that there is a difference between expressing a well-formed opinion and being hateful. Constructing and maintaining one’s own morals is crucial and should be encouraged in our society as long as it does not lead to intentional violence or harm to one another.
I’m here to remind you that it is okay to think differently. You are not always going to agree with your best friends, family, or your significant other. Do not succumb to the influence of others just because you want to satisfy them. Your opinion has value. But, so do those of the people around you. And don’t you forget it, because society seemingly has already.
Calvin and Hobbes is a comic strip by Bill Watterson that was released daily from November of 1985 to December 1995. The cartoons were used as vessels for portraying serious topics simply through an opinionated boy, Calvin, and his make-believe tiger, Hobbes. Although new original strips are not being produced, they live on in form of collections and on the official Calvin and Hobbes website (https://www.calvinandhobbes.com/about-calvin-and-hobbes/). From topics of the existence of fate to the selfishness of man, the cartoons touch on topics that are extremely relevant in today’s society. In this article, I will be presenting a specific cartoon addressing the corruption of the news.
What is “The News?”
In this particular strip, Calvin yells at a tv screen complaining about the lack of information, and how this is wrongly defined as “news.” The news and media have been under-fire for the last few of years, especially in the United States. The term “fake news” has been used time and time again after President Donald Trump used it on his twitter on countless events. Although its popularity grew in 2016, the term was originally coined in the 1800s, with a neutral connotation and a simpler, less political denotation. Fake news: can refer to false new stories, often spread as propaganda on social media. It can also characterize any information that one finds critical about themselves, popularized as a catchphrase by Donald Trump after the 2016 presidential election. The term itself is can usually be described as false information. In the case of the President, he will refer to information as fake news when it has been backed up and proven by several sources to be true.
News: newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events. Along with the political corruption of the news, there is a phenomenon of presenting not news, but particular stories that aren’t incredibly relevant to the state of affairs. For example, Buzzfeed, “the leading independent digital media and tech company delivering news and entertainment content to a global audience,” has been criticized for posting articles that are not relevant, and even offensive to some groups of people. When expected to present equal parts news and entertainment, often the entertainment is more common. Many have pointed out that quantity is more valued than quality in their case, and that the articles are more similar to opinion pieces, and are not informative.
Sensationalism and fake news are similar terms. However, the main difference is that “fake news” is more used than sensationalism. Although we often forget about sensationalism, its relevance in the world today is just as important as fake news. Sensationalism: the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement. Because many people access their news online, online news sources take advantage of the fact that each time a person clicks on a story, they will receive earnings from ads and other monetization inputs. Sensationalism in the modern day may also be referred to as “clickbait,” literally meaning sensational bait that will get you to click on the article. This phenomenon takes place in vain when the job of the news is to inform instead of obtain. Sensationalism in the cartoon is mentioned in terms of television rather than handheld devices or computers. The type of sensationalism today is even more dangerous because of the access that children have to it. Hackers can even use click bait as a way to inject a virus into a system. Next time you see an article claiming a title too crazy to be true, just don’t click.
Ignorance is bliss, right?
Finally, in the third part of the strip, Calvin says, “Fortunately, that’s all I have the patience for.” This is a statement that I’m sure many people can relate to. Sometimes the struggles of the world are just too much, and it’s nicer to have tame information at your disposal. However, it is important to know what is really going on. Because many people would rather hear the good than the bad, they just accept the fake news and sensationalism. This is not a good mindset to have. It is always needed to take a break from the news, but don’t let the need for happiness overtake the need for true information.
What can we do?
To lessen the spread of fake news, always investigate the information given. To make sure that we all get information that is true and backed-up, double or triple check what’s being put out there. If you read an article that says something a little off, research it. If you read something from one website, read other sources. Always do your homework before you tell someone about something. This is especially important for us teens. Do your research, and have fun doing it! As teenagers and rising leaders, we can stop the spread of fake news and inform each other on the important things.
Jeannette Rankin began breaking ground in 1917 as the first woman in history in the House of Representatives. She was also one of the key people in pushing the 19th Congressional Amendment, which allowed women to have equal voting rights. Now, thanks to her bravery and devotion to women’s rights, we have a record-breaking number of women recently elected to Congress.
On November 6th, 2018, a remarkable number of women were elected to Congress, making the overall number of women representing the House more than 100. It doesn’t stop there, either. The 2018 midterm elections were followed by several firsts.
Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Tlaib will be America’s first Palestinian-American congresswoman, and Omar will be the first Somali-American congresswoman. Rashida Tlaib is a lawyer and a politician. She previously served a full term as a Democratic member of Michigan’s House of Representatives. She won the recent election with over 136,000 votes uncontested. She is a single mother of two sons. She once was removed from a venue where President Trump was being honored with an official Purple Heart. She claimed that he had not earned it. She stood her ground and was escorted respectfully.
Ilhan Omar was the first non-white woman elected to Minnesota’s House of Representatives and is the first Muslin refugee to be elected. Omar won the election with more than 267,000 votes. Omar was once a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota and was nominated as a rising star in the Party’s Women’s Hall of Fame. She also lives happily with her husband and three children. She spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya in the early ‘90’s after the start of the war. After immigrating to the states in 1995, Omar was able to learn the English language in less than three months. She graduated with a degree in political science and international studies from the University of North Dakota in 2011.
Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are the first Native American congresswomen. Davids is not only a member of the Native American Ho-Chunk nation, making congressional history, but she is also the first publicly declared lesbian in Congress and a former professional MMA fighter. Davids is a strong young woman who chose to leave MMA fighting in 2013 to follow her democratic political dreams in representing Kansas in Congress. She received her Juris Doctor—degree in Indian law—from Cornell Law School in 2009. She won over 164,000 votes in the midterm election.
Deb Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people from New Mexico. She received a bachelors in English and continued onto graduate school to claim her Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico Law School. Haaland is a single mother who enjoys running marathons and gourmet cooking.
Marsha Blackburn is Tennessee’s first woman elected to Senate. Blackburn brandishes herself as a conservative Republican. She has been a member of Tennessee’s Senate, and a U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 7th congressional district. She is a strong supporter of “traditional marriage,” pro-life, and non-government-controlled healthcare. She is a former member of the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board and is married with two children.
Janet Mills is elected Maine’s first female governor. She ran as part of the democratic party and earned 318,000 votes in the election, winning by nearly 7%. She was an assistant attorney general and then the district attorney for three counties in Maine. She was the first woman elected to be Maine’s district attorney. She is the widowed mother of five stepdaughters and has three grandsons.
Ayanna Pressley is the first black person elected into Massachusetts’s House of Representatives. She is the first female black women elected to Congress. Pressley was raised by her mother who worked incredibly hard to give her a better life. Pressley was a cheerleader in high school and did some voice-over work for Planned Parenthood advertisements. She supports the “take a knee” movement that gives recognition of the U.S.’s need for equality. Pressley is also a survivor of sexual crimes in which she fights against for herself and other young women. She believes that the states should defund the Immigration and Customs Enforcement laws as they endanger immigrant communities.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman elected into Congress at age 29. She will be representing New York’s 14th Congressional district beginning January 2019. She ran as part of the democratic party. In high school, Ocasio-Cortez had a small asteroid named after her when she won second place for a research project on microbiology during the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. After facing financial struggles shortly after high school, she was awarded funds from Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator, which allowed her to start a small publishing firm. She went on to be an educator for the National Hispanic Institute, which is a non-profit organization. Ocasio-cortex supports free education for universities and colleges. She supports 100% renewable energy sources. She is for the impeachment of Trump and would like to the U.S. Customs and Enforcement agency to be abolished.
Abbey Finkenauer is the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress. She is a member of the democratic party. She received her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Drake University in Iowa. She was endorsed by Barack Obama in her candidacy for this year’s midterms. She is the second youngest woman to be elected into Congress at age 30, following Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, age 29.
Let these women represent everything that you can achieve in life. If someone says you can’t, or if the world feels like it’s against you, do not back down. Women in history have worked hard to get us to where we are today, and these newly elected women will help lead that venture. We are strong. We are smart. We are women.
Do you vote on class president? Do you vote for homecoming court? How is your prom queen or king chosen? Do you get a vote during class for certain activities? You’ve probably been voting since a young age, and you just never thought about what that truly means. It means you have a voice. You get to decide somewhat of what the outcome of something is. It may be a collective vote where your choice didn’t win, but at least you got the option to vote in favor or against something.
When I was in high school I never imagined myself voting, whether that meant for state elections or for presidency. I never cared much about politics or what that meant for me. Somehow, I found myself in a situation where my vote would have counted had I chosen to give my input on something. My friends wanted to decide what we were doing for the evening, and they all took a vote. There were seven of us, but I chose not to say anything, because I didn’t want to come off too picky. The vote totaled out with three wanting to go ice skating, and four wanting to go to the movies. I really wanted to go ice skating, and had I voted we would have had to come to some other option.
It may seem silly that I’m relating my vote for what to do on a Saturday night versus voting for a president, but it does make sense. It was something that I wanted to do and chose not to do anything about. There are probably times where you critique the president in power or say something negative about a local judge or governor. You have the power to do something about it. It all starts now, when you’re young and are not quite old enough to vote. You should be doing research on the candidates, look into how there run in office may shape your future.
If you think about it, the older generation in power get to say what the younger generation can and should do. We can make a difference in how our future is shaped by voting when we are old enough, or by being aware of our surroundings while we’re still young. You could probably check with local candidates and try to join their campaign teams. You might not be old enough to vote yet, but that does not mean you can’t know the candidates well enough to voice your opinion to those who can vote.
Here are some links to check out regarding voting and campaigns:
If you want to volunteer for someone’s campaign: look up their information on google, search their website for volunteer opportunities. If there are no volunteer options on the site, then call the number they have listed at the bottom of their web page.
When we choose our role models, it is ideal that they possess qualities we ourselves possess or wish to possess in the future. These role models could be family members, teachers, mentors, or even peers who inspire us to improve ourselves. Most times, these role models are celebrities who are in the public eye through social media and the news. Often times we are aware of their successes and the steps they took to reach their goals because of news articles, magazine interviews, and social media blogs. But how often is it that we actually take time to research their contributions to the community and to political causes? We may overlook these actions by our role models because of what the media pushes to the forefront, but some celebrity role models are influencing politicians in a positive way.
What Are Some Roles Celebrities Have Played in the Political World?
Celebrities are role models especially for young people, therefore they are spokespeople for many political figures when they want to persuade youth to align with their values. What better way to send this message than through a teenager’s idol such as an actor, performer, or famous athlete?
In 1960, President John F. Kennedy received support from public figures such as Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin of the group Rat Pack. In the 2008 presidential election, Senator John McCain was supported, aka endorsed, by Clint Eastwood. Eastwood also endorsed President Donald Trump in more recent elections. You may be wondering, what makes this person so special that they can endorse presidential candidates? Well, Eastwood is a well-renowned actor, producer, and director. A person of this stature is connected with many sources who can also contribute to the candidate’s cause.
Furthermore, in the 2008 election, household names like Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, wiil.i.am, Brad Pitt, and Samuel L. Jackson supported President Barack Obama. Oprah Winfrey is a highly respected entrepreneur who is a role model to young African American women. Other actors and athletes supported Hillary Clinton during the 2008. Some of these role models include LeBron James, Amy Schumer, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga.
What Are Celebrities Doing Today in the Political World?
Recently, celebrity entrepreneur Kim Kardashian influenced President Donald Trump to pardon 63-year-old Alice Johnson. The great grandmother was serving a life sentence for drug trafficking. According to Vox, the pardon “goes against the broader policy that Trump has been pushing for drug dealers and traffickers.” Trump has said the government should impose consequences on drug dealers and traffickers. However, Kim Kardashian found the punishment excessive for the 63-year-old great grandmother who is serving a life sentence for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. Kardashian first came across the case through social media- of course. She then reached out to her lawyer to help deal with the case.
Johnson had been serving her sentence since 1996, when she was financially strained and needed to support her family. Although Johnson understands her actions were wrong, she questions if she deserved a life sentence.
Despite these past 20 years, Alice Johnson is now a free woman and her fight for criminal justice reform has just begun thanks to Kim Kardashian West.
This goes to show that there is more to learn about our role models, and this includes their politics.