American Apathy: The Consequence and Cure



By Alika Zangieva


Anyone who has suffered through the AP US history textbook knows that up until the 1870s, nearly every significant event in US politics was passionately rendered with a catchy slogan, a fervent chant, or just mobs of angry people outside of legislature’s homes. The dominating reign of complacency ruled the American public for no more than a decade after reconstruction, until the populist movement brought back political indignation, and with it erased apathy.


Today we are again in a dangerous state of political indifference, and from perhaps the most crucial members of the electorate, American youth. But who can blame us, right? Give us a calculus problem and we’ll solve it in minutes, hand us Huckleberry Finn and we’ll write up a five page analytic essay. Its not like it comes easy, but we’ll designate time to it because, frankly, its all about the GPA. You can’t expect us to take time away from SAT prep to visit the White House Youtube page, or to stay up on Tuesday night watching the Debates instead of cramming for that physics test. I’ll could just tune in to CNN for the soundbites, right?


No. Please, no.


There are many consequences to disregarding political news; misinformation from soundbites is perhaps the most deadly. When our understanding of the 2012 election becomes “the 47 percent” or “I have whole binders of women” or “the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back” (Obama was on fire that night), we get sidetracked from policy and get lost in the rhetoric. Campaign managers are well aware and spend billions trying to reach the public through commercials and media outlets. We complain about big money in politics, yet we are the ones who make it necessary. We call for camaraderie and complain about a polarized Washington, yet we force politicians to cater to extreme donors of the left and right for secured support.


The further in time our nation progresses, the more distant it becomes from instances of national inequality, repression, and the denial of basic rights. The United States exists in somewhat of a bubble; a bubble that can be popped nonetheless.


Seniors – you’re slumping second semester anyways; use your new-found time to take a look at the potential 2016 candidates. Ask questions, or just “Google It.” We may be the problem, but we can be the solution.