Today President Obama finally took a stance on same sex marriages. He stated that he personally believes that gays and lesbians should have the right to get married, even though when he was running for office in 2008, he was against same sex marriages but for civil unions. Whether or not gay marriage will be allowed by all the states in the near future is irrelevant; what really matters is that someone in power finally took a firm stance on one side of the issue. Typically, politicians tend to avoid controversial and sensitive social issues in order to avoid stepping on certain people’s toes. However, America is becoming a more open place, and it’s about time for people to start talking about these issues that used to only be talked about behind closed doors.
When it comes to actually implementing gay marriage policies, there is usually some trouble. The constitution does not directly address social issues, let alone gay marriage, so there is a lot of room for debate on any social issue. The constitution does not explicitly say “Gay marriage is ok” but it also does not say “Gay marriage is illegal” or “Gay marriage threatens our democratic ideals”. So when debating gay marriage, it really comes down to how someone interprets the constitution. Whether or not someone uses the Whig model or the Stewardship model will play a part in determining whether or not they believe gay marriage is constitutional or not.
While yes, it is great that President Obama can talk openly about his opinions regarding gay marriage, this does not mean that same sex marriages will be legal across America in the near future. In this case, personal opinion does not matter, because in order for gay marriage to be legal across America, many policy hurdles have to be overcome. In reality, same sex marriage will probably not be legal in America for a very long time. However, as a country we are making progress considering people are getting comfortable enough to discuss controversial social issues in public, and for now, that will have to be good enough.
The media has a big influence in society today. Most people get their facts from a bias source such as FOX News, which is notorious for only providing the conservative viewpoint on most issues. Unfortunately, a majority of people don’t know how to view media critically, and distinguish between the facts and a bias opinion. There are two reasons that most people don’t know the difference, the first being a lack of knowledge regarding how to critically view media, and the second being a lack of knowledge regarding how the government works.
According to Stella Della Vigna of Berkely and Ethan Kaplan of Stockholm University, “In a representative system of government, policy outcomes are affected by the political preferences and the beliefs of the voters. The media plays a key role in shaping these preferences and beliefs. It collects, summarizes, and frames the information that voters use in their voting decisions.” If people only absorb what the media presents, then they are not voting off of all the issue that should be taken into account when voting. Instead, they only see a few issues addressed.
Another problem is the negative propaganda regarding the government in the media. People tend to see articles like this, poking fun of Rick Santorum (all in good humor of course), and take them too literally. They really begin to believe that Rick Santorum is an idiot just based off of a few quotes.
But because government class taught me how the government really works and how to critically view the media regarding the government, I am able to avoid the trap the media sets. In these most recent months, I have been able to apply what I have learned in government to the GOP nomination race. Instead of looking to social media to form a view of the candidates, I went to the Romney and Santorum campaign websites to see what the candidates really stood for.
Overall, government class helped me establish my own opinions (uninfluenced by social media) of the candidates. I learned that I actually do not share the beliefs of these candidates, and that I do not support them, but I learned this by going straight to the source for information, not going to a social media site.
Also, having a basic knowledge of how the government operates has helped me significantly. As an American citizen, it is important that I know how the government works, and knowing how the government works is especially important now considering the presidential elections are coming up. I learned about political parties, the electoral college, and many other things that influence the election process that I had not previously been aware of. I was able to apply what I had learned and judge what is really going on with the elections. I was able to learn to predict how people would vote based off what the GOP nominees said, and I was able to understand what was going on behind the scenes of the GOP nomination race.
In the end, if not for government class, I could not have seen the current presidential elections from the viewpoint I see them from now. I developed the skills to view the media with a critical eye, and I learned the details that happen behind the scenes of the government. I was able to develop my own political voice, and apply my knowledge to assess the GOP nomination race.
We are 21st century learners who collaborate purposefully, communicate cogently, create meaningfully, and think critically. We write about politics and foundations of government with an eye toward developing engaged citizens - the sorts who are essential to the health of democracy.