Opinion: Young people should make the effort to learn about politics

Students have the chance to spend their college years developing their own way of understanding the world around them.

Taylor Newby, Columnist

During the 2018 midterm elections, Iowa experienced its highest voter turnout in vthe last 10 years. Despite the record-breaking number of Iowans who voted, only 37.7 percent of people ages 18 to 24 showed up.

As a student, it’s easy to meander without a second thought as to what’s happening on state and national levels when we’re not being bombarded with news and information that impacts our college sphere every day.

Though we have access to journalists who work tirelessly and diligently to inform us of what’s happening around us and make clear what that means for us, we often don’t dig deeper beyond the surface-level bouts of information presented.

It may seem challenging to bother paying attention to politics as a full-time student, employee, student-organization representative, or occupants of other positions. That’s why now is the perfect time to steward a political voice — it’s accessible, easy, and achievable. All it takes is leaning in with a willingness to learn.

Because we wear so many titles, we bear a lot of beliefs and opinions. We make conscious decisions about where we will direct our time and energy, and then we pursue that with clarity, intention, and direction. There are opportunities to mobilize the beliefs and opinions we carry with us.

As students, we have an unparalleled opportunity within our time at the UI to ask hard questions, challenge our beliefs, and develop our world-views.

As students, we have an unparalleled opportunity during our time at the University of Iowa to ask hard questions, challenge our beliefs, and develop our world views.

The voter-turnout statistics best demonstrate that if our predominantly retired population recognizes the value of a single vote, our up-and-coming generation can, too. Nearly 80 percent of people over age 65 cast ballots. That was the largest age group to show up on Election Day with ballots in hand. 

“Explore your options. We’re young, we have these resources on campus,” activist and former campaign organizer Casey Gilette said. “Sit in a couple meetings, see what they’re all about, hear their stories — and maybe you can find some commonality and work together.”

The purpose of politics isn’t to pit people against one another; it’s to bring people together in agreement, shared understanding, and putting words to action. There are countless conversations unfolding on campus about what certain political agendas mean for our generation and how we can best be involved together.

Iowa City has hosted numerous political candidates. Earlier this year, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was at the center of the viral “Ranch Girl” moment in The Airliner, wedged between a crowd of cameras and a UI student elbowing her way to ranch. Just last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., rallied supporters on the Pentacrest.

“The best way to be informed is to listen, and everyone here has their own experiences that may shape how you look at the broader picture,” UI senior Ian Jongewaard said. “It’s not something that should divide people, but something we continue to dive into together to figure out the best solutions.”

And that isn’t just because Iowa City is a fun place to visit; it’s because political candidates know that our voices are influential when it comes to our country’s future. We’re able to flesh out our views and beliefs with a single vote — together.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.