Sitting in Mrs. Bonnie Shockey’s class on Monday afternoon, IB Higher Level English students found themselves engaged in serious conversation about the future of a divided country. Although California is a considered a liberal state, students still voiced varying political views. But one question remained on the minds of all: how did our country become so divided?
The battle between the Democratic and Republican parties has been a part of American culture for quite some time, but the preexisting tensions seemed to escalate to an unprecedented summit during this election season.
However, during class on Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Long, Charter Oak’s IB Coordinator and Art teacher, said “This unexpected turn of events has occurred before. The candidates are new, but the political division and unexpected result isn’t. It’s interesting to see the present generation come to terms with an extreme transition for the first time.”
Perhaps this is true, and the extremes we are witnessing are merely new to millennials who have grown accustomed to a democratic, left-leaning executive branch. Yet, many students are beginning to recognize the effect social media has had on the youth political arena during the past few months.
“I think people lose half of the story when they receive all their political knowledge from Twitter, which is generally left leaning,” said senior Camille Castro. She shared my belief that millennials and generation Z need to take more initiative to utilize the technological tools at our fingertips to gain a broader perspective about either side of the political spectrum, rather than directing energy only toward antagonizing an opponent.
It is clear that political polarization has created an atmosphere of extremes, in both the left and the right wing. However, changes appear to be on the horizon.
“Currently the right is divided because of Trump. He’s not a true conservative,” said Camille. “People are unsatisfied with their choices.”
Many voters have found themselves at an impasse, forced to vote for “the lesser of two evils.” The brutal mudslinging that occurred this election season concerning the trustworthiness and integrity of either candidate brought me to ask: do honest candidates exist?
“I believe there were honest candidates: Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders. I think the real problem is us. There are truthful candidates; we just don’t vote for them,” said Camille.
The results of this election have given many a wakeup call, but the passage of time offers hope for the future. Mrs. Shockey, a campus politics aficionado, said, “When Gen X is in power, the ‘old boys club’ and the silent women of the past will disappear. The political division we are facing now is prompting the formation of new parties, ones that will satisfy what people in the middle of the extreme left and right want.”
Although uncertainty and fear may arise in our minds, Mrs. Shockey reminds us all to “fight the good fight.” As we grow older, the torch will be passed on, and ultimately, we will determine the future that seems so uncertain.