Political dialogue must go beyond election season

Meet Tommy Trojan, your average student. He occasionally watches The Daily Show with Jon Stewart but he otherwise has little knowledge of the current political scene. Keeping up with current events isn’t too big of a concern anyway — it’ll do to know the gist.

Rita Yeung | Daily Trojan

This lack of political vitality characterizes the majority of college students across the nation. According to TechnicianOnline.com, 18- to 24-year-olds consistently have the  lowest voter turnout.

USC, unfortunately, is not much better off. Though USC has many politically oriented student groups, day-to-day political discussions are hard to find.

As students of voting age, we should be talking more about political affairs, even outside the presidential election season.

The media tends to blame our generation’s low voter turnout on political apathy. But is that really the only factor?

We are inundated with too many news outlets, and each one expects viewers to know the basics of politics.

In college, students should no longer rely on their parents in order to stay informed. The responsibility falls directly on the students, most of which are too busy studying for midterms.

Most college students are still trying to get their lives together. Modern day politics are not simple enough to pick up on the fly. News stations need to realize that they should be targeting multiple audiences.

Busy students — and even working adults — need news stations or websites that can summarize political highlights every week and that can deliver them in an engaging and informative manner.

Think ESPN’s top five plays of the week, but more in-depth.

Michelle Kang, a freshman majoring in global health, said she was not up-to-date with politics,

“I only usually follow the presidential elections or anything that relates to health policies.,” Kang said. Other than that, politics sort of just makes me angry.”

Anger: another reason why students don’t pay attention to politics. Anger at the politicians stubbornly holding on to partisanship instead of making decisions that will benefit the whole, regardless of what party they belong to. Didn’t politicians take anything away from George Washington’s farewell address, which warned against political factions? Oh, Congress.

But anger comes from what the media portrays, and it’s no secret that every news station is at least a little biased. The problem is no one has time to read newspapers front to back; students choose sections based on personal interests.  Once again, students find themselves in a situation where it might be the most convenient to stay static — but we can’t keep doing that.

No one wants to feel left out of current events, especially if it is an issue that calls for national debate. The problem with staying in our current, uninformed state is that we’re in danger of getting stuck, a dilemma that will carry over to our middle ages when our political knowledge might matter even more.

Politics might not always be fascinating, but we, as American citizens, give our government the power to rule. As such, we have a moral obligation to understand why we continue to do what we do, lest we defer to anarchy for lack of knowledge.

So, ask around, watch the news, read articles online, anything that will get you talking about politics and that will encourage your friends to do the same.

In a few years, we won’t be at USC. That’s when political knowledge will really count.


Leslie Chang is a freshman majoring in history.