I recently watched a segment on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” where an interviewer asked people on the street, “What do you think of President Obama’s decision to pardon the sequester and send it to Portugal?”
The question purposely made no sense, but some people who apparently didn’t know about sequestration answered with confidence.
“I’m so grateful, because Portugal should be protected at all costs,” one woman replied. “They have a constitutional right, and it should be protected. That’s what our president is for.”
If this woman is any indication of how well people follow current events, our country is in trouble.
Living in a democracy that has more freedoms than any other country in history comes with a responsibility to be politically aware.
Citizens are expected to participate in the democratic process by electing and influencing their representatives.
If citizens are clueless about what is happening in their country, or the world in general, they can’t make good judgments about whom to elect, or which policy to support. When people don’t take the time to find out what’s going on, they can become detached from the whole political system. This can lead to voter apathy.
The problem with that approach is that a democracy is supposed to reflect the views of all its citizens. If its citizens won’t voice their opinions by voting, the democracy starts to deteriorate.
I’m not saying everyone needs to spend hours every day following all the latest political developments. We’re in college. We all have papers to write, presentations to give, jobs to hold down and maybe even kids to raise.
We don’t have a lot of time to sit down and watch every news story. But keeping up with the news is vitally important. The events of today are shaping the environment we’ll be entering after college.
The world isn’t going to stop and wait for us to finish school. We have to pay attention now or we’ll struggle to catch up later.
Even little things like listening to the news on the radio on your way to work, scanning headlines on the web or watching a newscast before you go to bed can keep you up to date with the world.
You don’t have to be an expert on current events, but having a general knowledge of what’s happening is critical. If you don’t even know what’s going on, you can’t complain about or try to influence decisions our leaders make.
If you neglect your power to be informed, you are forfeiting your power to make a positive change in the world.