When I think about how far out I started writing about this 2020 election, it feels like it was a whole world apart from where I am right now.
The first post I wrote about the 2020 election was about a year ago, reflecting on the presidential field in January of 2019, six months before the debates. To think at that point in the election cycle, we still didn’t have several massive candidates in the race, yet we had attempted to predict the victor. At that time in the campaign, I didn’t know where I aligned politically, much less understood all the intricacies of the policies being put forth between the progressive and more establishment lanes. At this point last year, the only certainty I knew of was that I was going to vote in this election.
Today, February 1st, we are two days from the all-important Iowa Caucuses. And, even though we’re so close to the actual “beginning of the end” with this primary, the ultimate result is still really unclear. There has been a late Bernie mini-surge, but Biden remains steady at the front, and Pete is not far behind. But rather than analyzing who will win Monday night, I want to focus on understanding what I feel as though I can speak more towards what we as young people have been talking about this election year.
I am aware of the fact that I am the furthest from an average student when it comes to my political awareness. Sometimes I feel as though I spend far too much of my free time following politics. Often I am disillusioned in thinking that everyone may think similar to me on an issue, that everyone should have the time and desire to want to be very informed on politics. But in reality, that just is not true. Even in the informed student body of the school, I go to, some peers just are not interested in or care to learn more about politics. And, I for one, have taken steps to make sure I understand and can acknowledge that is a valid position to have. Everyone makes their own decisions about how aware or involved you care to be, and that’s what makes this country great.
However, that should not and cannot exist with the fundamental discontent that people have with the way politics functions. Young people on both wings of the political system are fundamentally fed up with the belief that their representatives do not speak to their values or their wants of government. The same person who may not be as politically inclined can also be someone who dislikes how politics works. I had a conversation with a younger cousin over the break about why he wasn’t interested in voting, I just received a response of simply: “I don’t care.” You don’t get those kinds of reactions to politics without being mechanisms in our lives or in the way with which we are taught to care about politics. I’ve written about it in the past, I’ve given a talk on it, and I still fundamentally think that is what stops politics from radically changing.
The conversations I have about politics with my friends are not short term, 2020 election predictions; they’re fundamentally about the existence of political parties, the pros and cons of populism, the conflicts between any progress and ambitious dreams in the policy. What I hope through all of this discourse I’ve been having since I’ve gotten to college is pushing me to try and envision a different way of approaching politics. So, even though Iowa and the 2020 election are pressing at this moment, I’m trying to figure out the long term what changes, if any, there are of salvaging politics and finding a way for more people my age to find interest and excitement in it all. Let us hope that this election is a possible moment for this whole discussion to move forward.
Being Noah Tesfaye #117: Iowa and 2020 is Not the End
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