US political system fails students, students should learn to protest
In the last month the US was on the verge of defaulting on its national debt. By August, Congress finally voted to save us from financial crisis by raising the debt ceiling and cutting government spending. They did this begrudgingly on both sides, kicking and screaming, hours before the deadline in what can only be seen as embarrassingly unacceptable behavior from public officials.
It would take several pages to outline why students, if not the public as a whole, should be out in the streets protesting this irresponsible action. Suffice to say, however, that with the exclusion of Tea-Party members (who arguably are the cause of this mess) there is no public outcry — from students or otherwise.
This is the problem: a synthetic and manufactured “grassroots” organization funded by rich movers and shakers is more mobilized, more effective at manipulating politicians and overall more angry than the current youth of today. Students and young adults should have gallons more energy and ferocity.
When is the last time UH saw more than a dozen students protesting out of the 38,000 strong enrollment?
The case, then, is that this generation either does not know or does not care about the political fiasco we are in. However, the apathy seems stuck in the states.
The Middle East has no lack of energized youths prepared to cry, fight, and die for what they view as civil and human rights. Even in the UK there are still people organized enough to riot when someone gets shot, gangbanger or not.
With simple observations it is not difficult to note that students in America, if not the overall public are pacified. Not to be confused with pacifists, pacified people are those who spend their days in-between classes and work by texting, tweeting and Facebooking their hours away, only to spend two seconds reading someone’s tweet about someone’s tweet about the US debt crisis.
Admittedly, social media has done wonders abroad for those looking to organize, protest and bring awareness to social injustices. However, in the US it seems there is an opposite effect.
Still, iPhones and Farmville are only partly to blame; not all students are distracted by toys. Some abstain from organizing, protesting or speaking out because of fear. Not fear of violence or reprisal: fear of loss of success.
With school responsibilities, work responsibilities and the ever-looming presence of every form of debt from tuition to credit cards, it is no wonder that students won’t take the time out to make their voices heard. This is no excuse, however.
Whether or not this is subconscious is the worrisome part. Do distracted students realize they are distracted? Do the students blinded by fear of getting behind in the rat race for success know that they are stuck in a maze?
The more likely reason is that students just don’t realize how bad the current social atmosphere is. With the constant barrage of media that young adults face this is ironic if not debatable, but still comes with a bit of truth.
Protesting is needed now, as the political atmosphere can and will go from bad to worse. The wealth gap will widen, lobbying and campaign funding will bloom like algae, and it will be too little too late to sign a petition.
This generation will have no option but to collectively remove their heads out of the sand and realize that no one is there to take care of them except themselves.
Even then, most will surmise that simply protesting will do nothing more than blow off steam. This is an illusion. Protesting is crucial to processes of political participation. It is the public opinion poll at its best. If done correctly, it is how a society is transformed without bullets or bludgeons.
But the sky will have to fall before students protest. Once the walls of naivety crash, however, the best outcome will be that everyone picks themselves up, dusts themselves off, and cry out in civil unrest.
David Haydon is a political science senior and may be reached at [email protected].