Confessions of the politically neutral
Photo illustration by Olivia Blinn/THE CHIMES
Let me start off with a little honesty: When it comes to politics, I idle in neutral. When fired-up, opinionated people talk about Medicare and the primaries, I struggle to keep up. To avoid sounding like an apathetic, naive citizen who doesn’t embrace her God-given voting rights, I tend to change the subject, sputtering out something like, “I’m not a big politics person.”
In reality, however, I am politically uneducated. Sure, I know some of the differences between the Democratic and Republican parties, but don’t quiz me on it. And please don’t make me pick one.
Yet, two weeks ago, I registered to vote for our nation’s next president. And for whatever else voters have to decide on. I know what you may be thinking — I shouldn’t go near the voting booth. America would be surely be harmed if I was at the polls wildly conjuring an opinion on gun control and gay marriage.
Walking in, not walking away
Rest assured, while my current political outlook is limited at best, I don’t plan to walk in blindly. But I do plan to walk in. It may sound elementary, but I’ve realized that ignoring politics won’t magically fix our country’s problems. What will? I’m not exactly sure, but I hope I’m not the only one who’s tired of staring blankly at the person who asks me who I’m voting for.
Registering to vote really doesn’t take a great deal of time. The online form only took a few minutes and was relatively painless until I was asked to choose a party. After sweating a little bit, I selected “not sure,” but after I submitted it I began to get calls from telemarketers trying to win me to their side. May this be a lesson to all of my fellow political infants: Just pick a party. I have had one too many awkward phone conversations this week with eager campaign representatives who use intimidating jargon. Do they realize that they’re talking to the girl who decided to vote a week ago? Probably not.
Do I know if I agree with the GOP’s stance on tax cuts? No. Do I even know what “GOP” stands for? No. I am starting from square one, and I have a feeling that I’m not the only one. Among my friends, family and fellow students, it’s not hard to notice a general political apathy. When an issue comes up in conversation, many of us tend to throw our hands up and claim that we hate politics rather than thoughtfully and prayerfully considering where we stand.
Shifting out of neutral
However, I know that a plea to engage in government is a lot to ask. Our planners are already overflowing to the margins; we generally lack time to pay careful attention to the presidential race. But for those of you who identify with where I’m coming from, I think it’s time for us to open our eyes. As Christians, we are commanded to make this world look more and more like the kingdom of God, and that includes the government. Our Spirit-led discernment is needed in our generation of politically apathetic 20-somethings who couldn’t care less.
I plan to listen and learn as the election approaches, carefully forming my own thoughts about our nation’s issues. Maybe by the time November rolls around, I’ll at least have decided whether I’m a Republican or a Democrat or something in between. Maybe I’ll finally stand on solid ground when someone asks my opinion on Mitt Romney rather than vacillating back and forth. Maybe I’ll walk into the voting booth with confidence and excitement to contribute my voice to this country.
Or maybe I’ll still be largely undecided. But either way, I refuse to tune out. I have shifted my political neutrality intro drive, and although I’m painfully under the speed limit, I’m at least headed down the road.