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  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Politics

    We’re at War

    In the America we live in, we don’t taste war daily. We don’t breathe in the aftermath of destruction or taste the wake of death. It’s easy to forget that American troops are officially fighting wars in seven different countries. Under the authority given by the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to fight al-Qaeda related conflicts, we have operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger. We have been fighting in Afghanistan for the past 18 years.

    In my lifetime, there has never been a time where the United States hasn’t been at war. I’ve grown up with the understanding that there is always a need for people to enlist in the army, and that there’s no foreseeable end. Why are we still in Afghanistan? It began with the attacks on 9/11, and with Bush’s response.

    •  On September 18, 2001, President George W. Bush signed the joint resolution to authorize the military to use force against those responsible.
    • By December 9, 2001, the Taliban regime collapses with the surrender of Kandahar. 

    In March of 2002, things begin to get a little mixed. Operation Anaconda, with 2000 American troops and 1000 Afghani troops, launches against 800 al-Qaeda members. However, the Pentagon begins to shift our resources away from Afghanistan and towards Iraq, listing Saddam Hussein’s regime a chief threat.

    YearAfghanistanIraq
    2002The US military starts to establish a reconstruction model.Bush claims that disarming Iraq of its “weapons of mass destruction” is a new priority
    2003Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield declares an end to “major combat”.NATO gets heavily involved.In March, Bush gives Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq and then attacked when he failed to respond.  After fully taking all the major strongholds of the regime, Bush declared “mission accomplished”.On December 13, 2003, Saddam Hussein is captured.
    2004Osama Bin Laden releases video showing him taking responsibility on behalf of al-Qaeda for 9/11.In June of 2004, Saddam Hussein is turned over to Iraqi authorities to stand trial.
    2005U.S forces are given access to Afghani military facilities.On October 19, Saddam Hussein goes on trial for killing 148 people in 1992.
    2006NATO leaders agree to remove restrictions on the logistics of how force can be used.On November 8, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield resigns as a result of his leadership failures that allowed for the abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison. On December 30, Saddam Hussein is executed.
    2007A Taliban commander is killed by combined US, Afghani, and NATO forces.American commanders arm Sunni Arab groups that promise fight militants related to al-Qaeda who have been their allies in the past.
    2008General Stanley A. McChrystal orders an overhaul of US airstrikes.The Iraqi Parliament and the US ratify a pact that calls for American troops to pull out of major cities by 2009 and be fully gone by 2011.
    2009On March 27, President Barack Obama commits 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Obama announces a new strategy involving increased aid to Pakistan.US Marines launch major offensive in southern Afghanistan. On December 1, Obama announces a major escalation of the mission, committing another 30,000 troops to the 68,000 already on the ground.The Iraqi people celebrate the withdrawal of American troops with parades and a national holiday.
    2010General McChrystal is relieved of his position as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.NATO member countries sign an agreement to hand over full responsibility of Afghanistan to the Afghani forces by 2014.Obama declares an end to the seven-year combat mission in Iraq. Wikileaks makes information about civilian deaths, detainee abuse, and Iranian involvement available to the public.
    2011On May 1, Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan. President Obama wants to begin the withdrawal of American troops from the area. Obama announces plans to remove 33,000 troops by the summer of 2012. October 7 marks the tenth anniversary of the war.Defense Secretary Leon E Panetta supports a plan that keeps 3,000-4000 American troops in Iraq a year after the deadline for their withdrawal. The United States formally ends its operations in Iraq on December 15.
    2012The Taliban agree to move towards peace talks, but then rescind their statements after accusing Washington of going back on the prisoner swap.U.S. Secretary Leon Peretta announces a plan to end combat missions by mid-2013. American soldiers come under fire for disrespectful behavior and violence against civilians. Afghani President Hamid Karzai demands that foreign troops be confined to military bases.Iraqi Kurds halt oil exports.
    2013US forces shift focus to military training and special ops-driven counterterrorism.The final report of the Special Inspector-General for Reconstruction in Iraq is released, showing that $10 billion was wasted.
    2014President Obama announces plans to withdraw most US troops by 2016.Baghdad asks the US government for help. US forces return. The Iraq War has cost the US over $2 trillion. American-led intervention in the Iraqi civil war begins on June 15.
    2015Three American contractors are killed at Hamid Karzai International Airport. President Obama announces that the number of troops will remain at 9800. Later, he announces that the number will remain 9800 throughout 2016.The US coordinates airstrikes with the Kurdish fighters and begins to plan to retake Mosul. American-led coalition launches first airstrikes on ISIL targets in the city.
    2016On December 31, American troops withdraw from Afghanistan, leaving 8,400 troops in four garrisons.The US begins targeting Islamic State chemical weapons infrastructure with airstrikes and special forces raids. President Obama authorizes the sending of 600 more troops to Iraq.
    2017The US drops its most powerful non-nuclear bomb on suspected militants. President Donald Trump presses ahead with an open-ended military commitment to fighting the “vacuum for terrorists”. He promises to lighten restrictions on combat. The Mosul massacre has the single largest death toll inflicted by a coalition airstrike since 2003. On December 9, it is reported that ISIL has lost all strategic territory in Iraq.
    2018Trump deploys troops across rural Afghanistan. The Trump administration cuts off financial assistance for Pakistan.The US announces that it will reduce the number of its troops in Iraq. On October 4, an operation against ISIL is started by the Iraqi military with the aid of French and American forces.
    2019In February, Taliban forces propose a plan where they stop international terrorist groups from operating in Afghanistan in return for the complete withdrawal of American troops. In September, President Trump breaks off peace talks.There is very little information. This picture was taken sometime in July. French and American soldiers are shown to support the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

    The timeline breaks off suddenly, as close to the present day as it can get. There’s so much more that has happened, so many more lives that have been lost, so much more destruction. This is the price of war. Maybe this article hasn’t clarified anything for the reader at all. It’s entirely possible that you’re more confused now than you were before. After writing it, I personally have to admit that I still don’t fully understand why we’ve been at war for the past nineteen years. 

    It’s entirely possible that that’s the point. 

    Works Cited

    “A Timeline of the U.S. War in Afghanistan.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, https://www.cfr.org/timeline/us-war-afghanistan.

    Cox, Matthew. “Army to Deploy 1,700 Paratroopers to Iraq.” Military.com, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/11/03/army-to-deploy-1700-paratroopers-to-iraq.html.

    Cox, Matthew. “Army to Deploy 1,700 Paratroopers to Iraq.” Military.com, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/11/03/army-to-deploy-1700-paratroopers-to-iraq.html.

    Taylor, Adam. “Do U.S. Troops Have a Future in Iraq?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 7 Feb. 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/02/07/do-us-troops-have-future-iraq/.

    ThinkProgress. “A TIMELINE OF THE IRAQ WAR.” ThinkProgress, 17 Mar. 2006, https://thinkprogress.org/a-timeline-of-the-iraq-war-6622633720be/#2012.

    “Timeline of Major Events in the Iraq War.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 31 Aug. 2010, https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/08/31/world/middleeast/20100831-Iraq-Timeline.html#/#time111_3296.

    Watson, Ben, and Bradley Peniston. “US at War in 7 Countries – Including Niger; US Army Rebuilds Afghan Firebases; F-35s to India?; and Just a Bit More…” Defense One, 15 Mar. 2018, https://www.defenseone.com/news/2018/03/the-d-brief-march-15-2018/146688/.

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Politics, TRENDING

    Thoughts on the Democratic 2020 Nominees

    Currently, the Democratic pool of candidates consists of approximately six to eight 

    serious contenders, from various backgrounds and levels of experience. The politicians polling 

    the highest are Joe Biden, former vice president of Barack Obama, and Kamala Harris, a 

    Californian senator. Other possible candidates include Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Yang. While 

    Biden and Harris’ policies attract more support, neither one has gained a clear majority of 

    Democratic votes. With multiple front-runners vying for the nomination, it shows that American 

    Democrats are divided between these politicians. This size will most likely cause the eventual 

    nominee to face more difficulty winning the 2020 general election. 

    Although more contenders provides diversity and choices for Democrats, it also means 

    that each person receives a smaller percentage of votes out of the general population, compared 

    to if the party had only fewer candidates. The Democratic debates this year showcased the wide 

    range of political programs these candidates endorse, as well as their disagreements. The 

    Democrats show more divisiveness, with no single person providing a platform that covers the 

    policies and ideas they want to hear. 

    The current Democratic candidates do demonstrate promising and beneficial ideas, but 

    the Republican Party’s single contender in Donald Trump allows them some guaranteed support 

    and past precedents. Even though many of Trump’s decisions have driven out some of his 

    supporters, his presidency has also cemented the support from other citizens. The GOP needs not 

    worry about choosing a nomination, and can fully focus on promoting Trump’s campaign. For 

    the Democratic Party to nominate a strong contender, they must single out and support one 

    candidate who recognizes most of the U.S. citizens’ best interests when making policies and 

    negotiations. Only then will they obtain the ability to consolidate their party’s votes and truly 

    face off against Donald Trump in 2020.

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, TRENDING

    The Whistleblower Complaint and A Summation of President Trump’s Impeachment Inquiry

    united states capitol building

    On September 24, 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the house would initiate an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Ever since the Mueller report was released, impeachment has been circulating through the media. It was only until Tuesday, September 24, that this impeachment could be possible. So what exactly does impeachment mean?

    What is Impeachment?

    Impeachment is often recognized as the catalyst to the end of a president’s term. While this could be true, only two presidents have ever been impeached, and neither of them was removed from office. Impeachment simply means that the president will be questioned by Congress, but does not mean that the president will be removed from office. Although impeachment is immensely relevant, there is merely an impeachment inquiry being held right now. 

    What is an impeachment inquiry?

    An impeachment inquiry is the beginning of the process of impeachment but does not inevitably lead to impeachment. In this case, the impeachment inquiry means that democratic officials elected for this process will investigate and possibly propose articles of impeachment. This would then be voted on by the House of Representatives. If a simple majority passes any article of impeachment, the president is officially impeached. Only after that is when the Senate votes on it, confirming or denying the president’s conviction depending on a two-thirds vote. 

    So, why is there an impeachment inquiry of President Trump?

    The main reason for the impeachment inquiry coming out recently is mainly because of the “whistleblower complaint” shared with the New York Times. A whistleblower is a person who informs on a person or organization engaged in an illicit activity. In this complaint, the anonymous government employee claimed that Trump asked the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Trump’s most threatening rival in the upcoming election, Vice President Joe Biden. Specifically, Trump asked for an investigation of Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The anonymous source also stated that all records of the phone calls were put on “lockdown” and stored on a top-secret computer this summer. The source said that many white house aids were concerned that the president was abusing the system, but had confirmed that it was “not the first time.” This yields evident questioning concerning the president’s motives. 

    Why should the whistleblower be believed?

    This is a question many people are asking. There is strong evidence showing that this person knows what he/she is talking about. The acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire, appointed by the president, claimed that many of the events pointed out in the report align with information released by the president. He also claimed that he has no reason to doubt the whistleblower’s intentions. The New York Times also released information stating that the whistleblower is a C.I.A. officer. In any case, a whistleblower, when admitting controversial information, is prepared for a life-changing event to transpire. Thus, no one would release faulty information when it can lead to such high-risk retribution.There is evident proof that this is not simply fabricated. 

    Will President Trump be impeached or even removed from office? We must be patient and await the outcome. We are living in an extraordinary time period. History is being made; all we have to do is pay attention. 

    *Because of dynamic events and hourly developments, this article may lack important information released after publication

    Sources:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/pelosi-top-democrats-privately-discuss-creation-of-select-committee-for-impeachment/2019/09/24/af6f735a-dedf-11e9-b199-f638bf2c340f_story.html

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/how-does-impeachment-work/2019/09/24/7eea04b3-dfd2-4dd8-8722-fd924f30410d_video.html

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/whistleblower-case-4-top-takeaways-from-the-whistleblower-complaint-and-the-testimony-of-dni-joseph-maguire/

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/context/read-the-whistleblower-complaint-regarding-president-trump-s-communications-with-ukrainian-president-volodymyr-zelensky/4b9e0ca5-3824-467f-b1a3-77f2d4ee16aa/

    https://www.npr.org/2019/09/27/764794409/the-trump-ukraine-affair-what-you-need-to-know-and-whats-coming-next


  • Articles

    Trump Impeachment Inquiry (9.30.2019)

    On September 24, 2019, White House speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that up to six committees would be making formal impeachment inquiries against Donald Trump over the Ukraine call on July 25, 2019. The initial call was made by Trump to try and find political dirt on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. Reports are finding that there is no evidence of current wrongdoing by Biden. Trump has denied that he tried to pressure Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, into giving away information on Biden, but a release of the call from July 25 proves otherwise. 

    “The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you ·can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.” – Transcript report from Washington Post

    As all the information is currently unfolding, 215 Democrats in the House of Representatives support impeachment, and according to CNN, upwards of 47% of Americans support an impeachment issued against Trump, with both of those numbers on the rise. Impeachment does not exactly guarantee a kick from office, and if Americans feel that is a necessary action, it will have to be fought for.

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Movie, Movie Review, Movies

    Review of The Great Hack: A Documentary About Data Rights and Democracy

    the great hack

    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:

    If you’d like to read more about this topic, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaigning_in_the_2016_United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, TRENDING

    An Overview of the 2020 Democratic Candidates

    democratic candidates

    As the 2020 Election approaches, some of us will be new voters, and excitingly, 2020 has the most diverse pool of Democratic candidates and the most female representation yet! 

    Night One of the Democratic Debates

    Elizabeth Warren 

    • Experience: Senator from Massachusetts, helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    • What is the greatest Geopolitical threat to the US: Climate Change
    • Most significant idea: Focused on Inequality, proposed an “ultra-millionaire tax” of 2% on net worth over $50 million and 3% over $1 billion
    • Who funds the Candidate: 26% small donations, no PAC contributions

    Cory Booker

    • Experience: Senator from New Jersey, 38th Mayor of Newark
    • What is the greatest Geopolitical threat to the US: Nuclear War and Climate Change
    • Most significant idea: criminal-justice reform including the legalization of marijuana and his gun licensing plan to increase restrictions on firearms 
    • Who funds the Candidate: 10% small donations, mostly funded by large individual donations

    Julian Castro

    • Experience: Mayor of San Antonio, Texas and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Barack Obama
    • What is the greatest Geopolitical threat to the US: Climate Change and China
    • Most significant idea: Immigration plan to reverse Trump’s Travel Ban and provide a path to citizenship for immigrants as well as aid Central American countries
    • Who funds the Candidate: 34% small donations, no PAC contributions

    Tim Ryan

    • Experience: U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 13th congressional district
    • What is the greatest Geopolitical threat to the US: China
    • Most significant idea: Help the manufacturing companies in America
    • Who funds the Candidate: 38% Labor Unions, Law firms, large individual donations

    Amy Klobuchar

    • Experience: Senator from Minnesota since 2007
    • What is the greatest Geopolitical threat to the US: China and Iran
    • Most significant idea: Plan to revamp the infrastructure in America and reverse Trump’s corporate tax rate cut
    • Who funds the Candidate: 21% small donations, Law firms, food and drug companies

    Tulsi Gabbard

    • Experience: Hawaii’s House Representative of the Second District since 2013, served in Iraq with the NAtional Guard
    • What is the greatest Geopolitical threat to the US: Nuclear War
    • Most significant idea: A noninterventionist foreign policy to promote peace
    • Who funds the Candidate: 27% small donations, no PAC contributions

    Jay Inslee

    • Experience: Second-term governor of Washington, previously served in the House
    • What is the greatest Geopolitical threat to the US: Donald Trump
    • Most significant idea: Climate change plan to switch to electric vehicles by 2030 and provide incentives to states to build and utilize electric charging stations
    • Who funds the Candidate: 34% small donations, climate action groups, and tech companies

    John Delaney

    • Experience: Former four-term congressman from Maryland
    • What is the greatest Geopolitical threat to the US: China and Nuclear War
    • Most significant idea: Build public and private international coalition against China’s intellectual property theft
    • Who funds the Candidate: 0.6% small donations, almost entirely self-funded

    Bill de Blasio

    • Experience: Mayor of New York City
    • What is the greatest Geopolitical threat to the US: Russia
    • Most significant idea: Economic focus to reverse Trump’s tax cuts
    • Who funds the Candidate: Workers’ Unions and Democratic PACS

    Beto O’Rourke

    • Experience: Former U.S. representative from El Paso
    • What is the greatest Geopolitical threat to the US: Climate Change
    • Most significant idea: Climate change plan to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords, implementing a carbon tax, and end tax breaks on oil companies
    • Who funds the Candidate: 59% small donations, no PAC contributions

    Night Two of the Democratic Debates

    Kamala Harris

    • Experience: First-term senator from California and was the Attorney General for California
    • The first issue to tackle: Tax cuts for working families
    • Most significant idea: Teachers’ pay plan that proposes a $13,500 pay raise for the average teacher as well as expanding the estate tax
    • Who funds the Candidate: 33% small donations, entertainment industry, attorneys, financiers

    Pete Buttigieg

    • Experience: The openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana and Afghan War veteran
    • The first issue to tackle: Restoring Democracy
    • Most significant idea: Supreme Court expansion from nine justices to 15, with five Democrats, five Republicans and five nonpartisan justices to maintain non-partisanship
    • Who funds the Candidate: 64% small donations, local businesses, CEOs, large individual donations

    Bernie Sanders

    • Experience: Vermont senator and a runner-up in the 2016 Democratic primary
    • The first issue to tackle: Political revolution
    • Most significant idea: Medicare for All plan with a single-payer health care system where the government provides insurance coverage to all Americans
    • Who funds the Candidate: 74% small donations, Liberal advocacy groups, UCLA employees, unions

    Joe Biden

    • 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

    Kirsten Gillibrand

    • Experience: Senator from New York since 2009, served in the House
    • The first issue to tackle: Family Bill of Rights
    • Most significant idea: Paid family leave plan with up to 12 weeks of paid leave for any family illnesses
    • Who funds the Candidate: 4% small donations, law firms, Wall Street banks

    Michael Bennet

    • Experience: Senator from Colorado since 2009
    • The first issue to tackle: Climate change/economy
    • Most significant idea: Medicare X and private healthcare
    • Who funds the Candidate: Finance and law industry

    John Hickenlooper

    • Experience: Governor of Colorado until January and was the mayor of Denver
    • The first issue to tackle: Climate change
    • Most significant idea: Reduce the costs of doing business but increase compliance with regulations
    • Who funds the Candidate: 10% small donations, real-estate firms, lobbyists, energy companies

    Marianne Williamson

    • Experience: Inspirational author and speaker
    • The first issue to tackle: Make America the best place for a child to grow up
    • Most significant idea: Pay $10 billion in slavery reparations every year for ten years to the African American community 
    • Who funds the Candidate: Unclear but could be self-funded, and Republicans have donated to Marianne to keep her appeal of “harness love” in the debates. 

    Eric Swalwell

    • Experience: U.S. representative from California’s Bay Area
    • The first issue to tackle: Gun violence
    • Most significant idea: Expanding access to college by providing interest-free federal loans
    • Who funds the Candidate: Finance and real estate industry, no PAC contributions

    Andrew Yang

    • Experience: Tech entrepreneur who created the company Manhattan Prep and Venture for America
    • The first issue to tackle: Freedom Dividend/Universal Basic Income
    • Most significant idea: A $1,000 per month universal basic income for every American adult.
    • Who funds the Candidate: 81% small donations, tech companies
  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Lifestyle

    Forming Your Own Opinion

    opinions

    Reminder: It is O.K. to Have Your Own Opinion

    Even if we all just have to agree to disagree.

    “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.

    Having political beliefs and opinions is part of being an active citizen. Here are three ways that you can be a better citizen.