Drop the Labels, Keep an Open Mind

What happened to the America we were taught to love and admire? What happened to the country that was founded on "liberty and justice for all?" Where has the equality and freedom gone that we used to value?

  We live in a country today dominated by two political parties, each with starkly different beliefs. Typically, the public will associate Republicans with the conservative movement and Democrats with a liberal foundation. America, considered a democracy. is supposed to allow people to choose who they'd like to run the country. But is America truly a democracy when there are only two choices?

  During the 2008 presidential election, President Barack Obama's campaign was based on the idea of "hope and change" for a country that was in desperate need of it. After what some considered a disastrous eight years under former President George W. Bush, Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans were forced to vote for Obama and install a new administration in the White House. Unfortunately, not much has changed, and the hope Obama's campaign emphasized is dwindling.

  President Obama is not to blame for the lack of progress made during his presidency. It is virtually impossible for any sort of change to be made when there are two parties playing dirty politics against each other. And since the public that is so easily influenced, it is amazing how some opinions cannot be changed. It would be very hard to convince a Republican that raising taxes for the rich would help our economy. It would be equally as hard to convince a Democrat that the Bush tax cuts had a positive impact on our nation. These fundamental differences between parties will never change and the political banter will continue unless we, college students, make a change.

  I am encouraging all college students, especially here at Ramapo, to get more involved in the political landscape around you. I cannot count how many times I have tried to talk politics with my friends and their response was, "I don't care about all that." It is time we start caring. Our country and the world around us will continue to deteriorate if we stand by and let it happen. This will be our country soon; we will be the elected leaders of the future. I propose a few simple steps on how to gain political knowledge and make a difference:

Stop watching biased commentary from panelists on networks such as Fox News or MSNBC. It's not real news. You will gain a real understanding of the world around you, rather than the opinions of those with political agendas.

Listen to and study the issues. If you truly learn the issues and the policies held by each political party, you will be able to cast a legitimate vote in the upcoming election. It is important to not blindly vote because "My dad is a Republican", or "Well, that candidate is Christian and so am I."

Talk about the issues with your peers. Discuss and converse among your group of friends the issues facing our country today and where you stand on them.

Finally, be open minded:

  What has destroyed our country is the close-mindedness of people and the unwillingness to listen to new ideas. We will continue down the path of the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and eventually the complete non-existence of a middle class if we do not strive for change. College students, it's time to wake up, and no not for class, but to get involved. Read the newspaper, watch the news, share ideas with friends because in the end, it is up to us to re-inspire hope and create the desired change in our nation.