Civically engaging with Alex Zank

Politics is more than just a dirty word, it’s something relevant to all students

Story by Alex Zank, OP/ED Editor

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I think the hardest argument I have ever had — one that repeats, and with many different people ­­­— is convincing someone why they should pay attention to politics.

I’ve studied the subject at UW-Eau Claire for about five years now, and I’m always reading political news, so I’m always ready to discuss the issues with whoever is willing, and sometimes unwilling. But when someone says, “So what?” or asks why it matters to them, I don’t have much I can say back, besides some not-so-nice thoughts I (usually) keep to myself.

This is not because I can’t give them an answer, since I have my own ideas of why it’s important to me. But how do I get someone else, who is probably more concerned about their research paper, working to afford school, or finding a career after they graduate?

But the argument is an easy one to make. Politics, in some form or another, plays a role in the very three things I just listed. As to how they’re related I will address later. (See? Now I have you hooked and reading on for answers!)

The word “politics” seems to be a dirty word for some strange reason. I think I can get away with using profanity more often than I can with muttering that one word. The word has been unfairly attached to a definition that would better fit “confrontation.” For some people, it’s even synonymous with preschool-type
fighting.

Are you one of these people that dismisses politics as unimportant and more akin to childish banter? Because if you are, you probably haven’t read this far anyway and I’m now talking to myself and the copy editors looking for mistakes. But let’s just pretend. So, what I hope to do for you, the reader, is rid you of this thinking.

Every week, I plan to tackle an important political issue and do a few things.

One, I want to show you why you should care about it. I will show how it affects you, and why you should know a thing or two about the issue. That’s going to be the most important part. And two, I want to give you my opinion on what outcome is best for you. This is an opinion column, after all.

Here’s an example of what I’ll try to accomplish:

Remember that list of things at the beginning of this article you’ve been waiting to see explained? You are writing a research paper for a class at a public university. Government had a direct role in providing this education. Every facet of your education, from kindergarten to college, is smothered in multiple layers of politics. That’s good imagery, it kind of reminds me of Waffle House. Always get your hash browns smothered, onions are great.

If you’re working part time or even full time while attending school, you may be working for minimum wage or close to it. Government sets minimum wage, and Congress is currently debating on whether to raise it. If you need this job to feed yourself because tuition is so expensive, college affordability is always a relevant political topic.

Recent college graduates are suffering from high unemployment, and for years government has been debating how to best help them (some would frame it as how to not further hurt them).

As the final semester of my college career begins, I hope you’ll accompany me on my weekly journey to prove that politics is important to understand. And maybe by the end of the semester, you’ll start thinking of politics as more of an issue involving governmental bodies and less of an issue involving childish bickering.

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