On the very first day of government class we took a survey to see where our own peers fell on the political spectrum. Later, we had a mock vote for the upcoming presidential election. The results were as follows:
I was puzzled by the results in class because I wanted to understand why people voted the way they did. Government class had just begun, so I wondered how people have enough knowledge or any at all to make such a massive decision. I happened to be guilty of this impulsive behavior. Personally, I had minimal knowledge about each of the corresponding views of a particular political party, but yet I voted the way I did because “that’s what my parents are.” I then questioned if people who associate themselves with a particular group, whether that be yellow-dog democrats, right wing Christians, Jews, or Hispanics, choose a candidate solely based on their groups stereotypic view point. Gallup Poll proved this to be true: “…Hispanics of differing demographic backgrounds all tend to solidly support Obama. It thus appears that there isn’t much beyond a shared Hispanic ethnicity or identity that explains Hispanic voting patterns.” In other words, Hispanics will typically vote democratic not because they find the candidate to be truly amazing, but because their group tends to follow party regardless of the issues. The problem with this trend is that many people are voting for a particular candidate without really understanding the candidate’s views on issues and how they will directly affect them. This leads me to question whether this is rational voting behavior.
Similarly, Pew Research Center asked the public if they would like to see Barack Obama re-elected president in 2012 or if they would prefer that any Republican candidate win the election. The results were as follows:
Once again, this reaffirms large parties inability to vote based on the issues because now conservatism is associated with being a republican and liberals are now associated with being a democrat. However, this was not the intention of our Founding Fathers. What was intended was that all ranges of the political spectrum be found in both parties.
I was curious to see how many people changed their views over the course of the year due to the topics we discussed in class and to test the validity of my findings. (Results below)
This proves that by educating the young people, they are able to form their own opinion. By having an educated and passionate viewpoint, young voters will become more inclined to participate in the upcoming election. Voting will no longer be considered a true burden, but instead the young voters will be enthused to say, “I voted today!” It is important that we encourage teens to discover their own view and maybe even challenge them to differentiate from their parent’s political views. By doing so, the amount of participation will sky rocket! Not only should young adults be encouraged to form their own opinions, but also those individuals who occupy large groups or races. They too, should learn to vote rationally. If you think your views might have changed over the course of the year or you want to test to see if you have remained firm in your position, you can take this typology quiz again at: http://www.peoplepress.org/typology/quiz/
Today, each political party is associated with a stereotype for every issue. It is a common belief that Republicans are
ProLife, and Democrats are decidedly ProChoice. However, I have discovered that these stereotypes vary more than I thought they would within relatively homogenous groups. For example: The great State of Texas has gone Republican since 1980, yet, a Republican’s stance on abortion is not as uniform as one would think. Even in my every day life I found this to be an alarming truth. Compared to other schools such as Greenhill, Hockaday, and St. Marks, where their people of color represent between 30-40% of their schools population,Parish is considered far less diverse. Because Parish is relatively homogenous in both socioeconomic status and race, I thought the opinions of an assimilated culture would be homogenous as well, but I was proved otherwise.
The picture above represents the volatility of abortion within political parties. As you can see within each party the notion of ProLife or ProChoice is not completely uniform. Interestingly, approximately 30% of the Republican party is ProChoice, while the Republican Party Platform is clearly against abortion.
Two Sides to Every Story
Before my big debate, I encountered a slightly unpleasant situation (I’m not a fan of controversy). I was sitting around the lunch table with friends who I thought would have similar opinions as mine, but boy was I wrong. When we were discussing our debate topics, a heated discussion arose when I told my friends I was going to be arguing on the ProLife side of abortion. I was able to communicate my main points until the situation became more confrontational than I was prepared for. A second surprise came my way from the resounding ProChoice position from many of the boys in my class. The majority of the boys were more concerned if they got a girl pregnant from a lack of precautionary measures than the thought that an abortion would be taking a life. I was now certain I had some revising to do. At the time, I knew each of my points were logical but it became apparent that I couldn’t defend the logic of my views in entirety. I felt embarrassed by my lack of knowledge and my inability to respond to the opposing side. Although, my experience at lunch was not as civil as I would have preferred, I was glad we had the intense discussion before I faced my true opponents. My disappointment at the lunch table inspired me to go home and research the opposite side of the spectrum. I realized that to effectively argue my side of the story, I had to understand the other. The statement holds true—“There are two sides to every story.”
Forming my Own Opinion
After researching both sides of the spectrum, I was able to develop my own firm opinion about abortion. I was no longer basing it off of parents’ view or my friends. Finally, I had come to my own conclusions and because of this I am excited to have become passionate about a current affairs topic. I am thankful for the extreme conversations I have had among my peers and for the thorough research I have done because I now feel prepared to debate against anyone in an educated and civilized manner. Lastly, I have learned that I cannot assume that the uniform or label displayed on the outside of a population is fit to each individual’s beliefs within it.