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How We the People Can Make America Great Again

Jewel Samad

Aaron Deivaprakash, Writer

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The Women’s Marches around the world. The #BlackLivesMatter rallies. The relentless protests against the Trump administration’s executive order on immigration. All have one thing in common: As I watched these events unravel on live television right before my very eyes, I had no reaction but to shake my head.

 

Now before all of you reading at home rise up and start protesting against me, you need to understand that I wholeheartedly support the messages of these groups. Their proper exercise of the rights to freedom of speech and assembly are what make our nation what it is. When legislators attempt to deny women’s reproductive rights, when law enforcement unjustly kills a man for the color of his skin, when families are separated, when prospective students are turned back, and veterans who fought amongst our troops like brothers are rejected simply due to their national origin – it becomes imperative to take action. After all, when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

 

The issue with most protests is not that they promote messages that could be considered social evils, but rather that most protesters are simply participating in a political one-night stand. You would think that such mass protests would indicate high numbers of political activity. However, as a Gallup poll conducted during the 2014 midterm elections demonstrates, there had been a “ten-point drop since 2010 in those ‘certain’ they’ll vote.”

 

And here lies the real social evil – people being too lazy to take action to get reformist legislation passed. A survey of 253 male and female students at DHS indicates that 17% (with ±5.3% margin of error) attended the Women’s Marches that took place the same weekend President Trump was inaugurated. However, when asked whether they took additional steps such as contacting a government official, not a single respondent answered “Yes.”

 

The same can be said about the way people talk about race in America. Both proponents and critics of the #BlackLivesMatter movement depict a race war plaguing the United States, when in reality these are isolated incidents that would be better addressed if people of all skin tones united and fought against police brutality, instead of accusing eachother of being on a certain side simply due to how well they absorb sunlight.

 

Perhaps the most tragic of these kinds of scenarios can be seen in the travel ban that stood for almost two weeks before being struck down by Federal Appeals Court of the 9th Circuit. Not only were people being targeted with greater magnitude and severity than the other issues we’ve discussed, but violent protests ensued – further compromising the credibility of patriots who gladly welcome the latest batch of Americans.

 

Fortunately, there is still hope. Reproductive rights activists, both men and women alike, have begun to run for public office on the local, state, and federal levels. Police departments across the country are creating bureaus to evaluate police brutality and train law enforcement officers on appropriate uses of force. Donations to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is notorious for filing lawsuits against corrupt officials, have reached an all-time high in the wake of the executive order on immigration.

 

This hope is in all of us. We cannot just stand up to wrongdoing one at a time, that’s how you get picked off like sitting ducks. All of us need to rise up as one and make an impact in our socio-political climate. That’s what keeps the democratic spirit of our great nation alive. That’s how We the People Make America Great Again.

 

Without further ado, here are 5 ways we as students can be more politically engaged:

 

  1. Read the news daily.

You’d be surprised at how unaware some people can be! Fortunately, in this day and age, you no longer have to nab a roll of paper from your driveway every morning. Thanks to an amazing invention we know and love as the Internet, there are many platforms available for you to get the scoop on world events – right at your fingertips.

 

  1. Determine your political views.

Ah, mankind’s eternal search for identity. This principle transcends all aspects of life – and that statement could not be truer in the wonderful world of politics. Once you begin to get a grasp on public policy thanks to the news you’ve been reading, take a diagnostic quiz such as the Political Compass or ISideWith.com to determine where you stand on the ideological map. Just be careful not to identify yourself with a political party too much, as many times policies can transcend multiple factions. After all, George Washington warned against hyperpartisanship, and who can judge the fake-toothed man who set the foundation of our nation?

 

  1. Take to social media.

We all love worrying about many likes our Instagrams get and sending selfies to our friends on Snapchat with the dog filter (seriously, enough with that), but have you ever thought about how it can be used to create meaningful change? Social media can serve as a great portal to interact with other politiques and voice your own views. You may even want to consider making a separate, anonymous political account just in case things get heated – no one wants to lose a friend over this!

 

  1. Keep an eye on your officials.

Unfortunately, there is no set database from the U.S. government that allows citizens to easily access the names and contact info of their political leaders, as well as actions they have taken while in office. Here are some names you should know:

– Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI1), the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

– Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate

– Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate

– Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA23), Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Reps

– Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA12), Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Reps

– Sen. Dianne Feinstein {D-CA), the senior U.S. Senator from California

– Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the junior U.S. Senator from California

– Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA15), represents Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

I highly recommend you look up their contact info and keep it handy, just in case you feel passionately about an issue and want to curse them out… I mean tell them professionally on what action you believe they should take. If you see their name in the news, take notice.

 

  1. PROTEST (peacefully, please)!

And here these recommendations come full circle. This analysis began with criticism of protest and now it’s going to end in strong affirmation. The First Amendment of our United States Constitution guarantees that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Soon, Jefferson will begin to roll in his grave thinking, “I wrote all that for nothing?!” unless we all channel our emotion into meaningful action. That action is found in the form of protest, something we should all engage in.

 

I hope you feel compelled to make your mark and leave your legacy on the mass politics of our nation. Always remember that going into the streets and holding up signs for a day isn’t going to do anything, and that political participation is a lifestyle. Perhaps one day, you too may be inspired to rise up and represent the American public by running for office.

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