As we near the primary season, we once again wait for posts to start popping up on our timelines. Voices of support for one candidate or admonishment for another fill our minds, until some of us could nearly forget that Facebook was made for sharing pictures of children, not candidates. But there’s another type of post that we’ll be seeing come spring: People who simply don’t bother to get into politics, and who want you to know it. Many of these people make it clear that they’re not bashing anyone’s politics, that they don’t want to argue, that they don’t want to take a position or just that they simply don’t care.
The problem is that not caring about politics is a privilege, and one that many people don’t have. We live in a nation that feels as though it is being torn in a thousand different directions, and there are constantly issues on the table that determine people’s basic liberties. With people fighting for their own basic rights, how can anyone claim that being entirely neutral is an option?
White supremacists are marching down our streets and committing violent crimes. People seeking asylum are being locked in concentration camps with high rates of sexual abuse and are being separated from their children. Transgender people, specifically women of color, are still being murdered in terrifying accounts. Insulin costs around $300 a vial, and people are going broke or dying trying to afford this needed medication.
These are just a few of the issues facing people in this country. But even with these polarizing issues, many people still claim neutral ground. While people are suffering abuses and civil rights violations that should make us tear our hair out, they avoid any side. This is not about party or political leaning, it’s simply about how anyone can not have an opinion about what is happening. What does it say about our society, when people say it’s better to not care?
I don’t believe that being apolitical is a virtue; instead, I believe it a vice. While no one is saying you have to go get into a shouting match with your second cousin over President Trump, just the act of caring about politics, of looking at the news or comparing the candidates or voting, like only 61.4 percent of Americans did in the 2016 general election, is important. Even if your rights have escaped scrutiny – which right now seems to mean that you are a white, Christian, straight, and cisgender man – you probably have friends who are still fighting for theirs. For some of us, elections are about more than a name on a ballot. There are human consequences of elections, and of those who feel secure enough in their own positions in society that they avoid them at all cost.
Most of us don’t want to be forced to pay attention. We don’t want to have to Google if our rights are being threatened and read the plans of every political candidate for a seat that affects us. We want to be able to consider economic policies and international relations when we look at our candidates, not just social policies. Hell, we even want to be able to have the security in our rights to say publicly that we are not going to care.
However, while people suffer because of the decisions politicians make, it will never not be cowardly to sit and say that you would rather not care. People’s lives and rights are depending on others caring about them. We live in a country that is supposed to be free for everyone, but we need people to ensure that it lives up to that promise and that doesn’t happen when people try to sneak by, pretending they are somehow better than politics. People are dying and suffering and scared for their rights. I don’t think people, especially apolitical white liberals, should think that speaking out for nothing is anything but a cowardly act.
Ashton Stansel is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.