Political apathy. It’s a term we hear so often–but what does it really mean and why is it the pesky cold that we, as a nation, cannot seem to shake?
Of course, the official Wikipedia definition rambles on about it being “the indifference on the part of any citizen of any country with regard to their attitude towards political activities. For example, politicians, elections, public opinions, civic responsibility, etc. A broader way of referring to political apathy in a country is to consider its political culture.”
This is true in that the political culture is apathetic, but only selectively. We are not a totally indifferent nation and the current heated arguments ensuing across all demographics and ethnicities should be a testament to the fact that we are, indeed, passionate and driven.
The problem is that it is emotionally driven passion that rarely leads to any kind of real political change. This lack of progress in the political arena leads to frustration and exhaustion. After all, we put so much effort and energy into that one passion-filled outburst in an attempt to “care” about politics and affect change, only to not see opposite results and be left with the feeling that is was all for naught. As long as we make decisions that are emotionally driven, they will always fail to be the type of decisions that are able to create the lasting determination and grit needed to implement political change.
I understand that emotion-based decisions will always be prevalent and that it is a normal part of the process. Despite that fact, how do we encourage thought and a movement towards a logical and strategic approach for change? We all want lasting change, especially in our political systems, but we cannot seem to be able to get past the rampant apathy when it comes to the things that can really make a difference.
Culture has changed and our younger generation can often be more passionate and devoted to superficial, meaningless extracurricular activities and thus lack desire to be involved in anything political. How can we even blame them? We have, many times, set a terrible example and failed to provide them with results. We lash out at those that think differently than us and then think that our causes are more important than everyone else’s.
Observations are a dime a dozen; the real question is: How do we fix the problem? How do we move away from the emotion roller coaster and towards logic and true progress?
I believe the answer lies in motivating the next generation.
Let’s invest in them, inspire them and help them to learn from the many mistakes that we have made. Show them that top to bottom change doesn’t work. We must start with our local officials, who have been largely ignored. We should, then, encourage our youth to become involved with the political world in their immediate area–those are the places where we all are most likely to be able to make changes that are tangible and will provide encouragement and hope that this herculean task can indeed be accomplished.
In addition, the local officials are the ones most likely to climb the political ranks and become higher raking politicians later. So let’s weed out the bad candidates before they even get to local positions. We can’t stop bad candidates before they get started if we aren’t paying attention.
Many of you are tired and discouraged, but now is not the time to give up or take a break. We have a new generation coming behind us and there is a war waging on for the future of our nation. Set the example. Teach and inspire in an attempt to push back against political apathy.
The consequences are too great and the stakes too high.