And this is how to sling mud
For the graduating class of Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts, the coming presidential election has been somewhat eclipsed by the excitement of leaving school. Nonetheless, it is a topic that should be of utmost importance to all Americans of voting age.
Recently, I attended a workshop for one of the major political parties. Almost 300 high school students from across the state of California were present.
Only a year ago, I was a mere legal alien, but now I am the proud bearer of American citizenship and the right to vote. I am not strongly attached to any of the political parties, whether they be the Democratic, Republican, Peace and Freedom, Independent or Green or the not-so-British Tea Party. However, I do enjoy exploring the ideologies of each.
The workshop that I attended was geared toward promoting interest in a political career. Unfortunately, it was not held with true partisanship in mind, and I discovered that it was run by one of our two major parties. Rather than revealing the truth about the chicanery that politics requires — or trying to encourage principles in the youngest generation of voters, or even just emphasizing the strength of their party compared with a certain other — the primary focus was instruction about how to attack your opponent.
Three presenters declared that attacking and undermining the opponent was vital to winning. I wondered how anyone could think it appropriate to encourage dirty campaigning — otherwise known as mudslinging — to the youth of America. I walked away with only one thing certain: that all the mudslinger did was discredit his own party.
In fact, if I hadn't done my share of TV watching and didn't know that this was a tactic routinely practiced by all the parties, I might have welcomed every other party by default.
Hansol Park, an MCAA senior who also attended the workshop, says that when one party attacks another, he feels as if he is being brainwashed by them and no longer wishes to support them, even if he agrees with their ideologies.
Mudslinging has become an insidious and prominent component of any government election. In fact, we frequently end up knowing to an infinite degree what every candidate has done wrong long before we get to know what they have done right, so busy are the opposition deriding each other rather than praising their own.
MCAA senior Makayla Synak said, "Those attack ads make me hate politics! Honestly, I have no clue what I'll do when election time comes around and I'll be forced to vote for a party that uses dirty campaign strategies. I worry that I'll be electing a corrupt president."
This strategy is not new to politics; both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson experienced their own form of mudslinging. Society seems not to have come far from then. Not only must we endure the various political parties attacking one another, but we also allow our children, the future of America, to be taught that character assassination is the modus operandi.
It seems that all the party leaders want from voters is a bitter, mindless mob loyal to them only because of their hatred of the other man or the other party. Where have the ideals of individual freedom and liberty gone?
We owe it to ourselves to think through each issue and not vote along party lines, as that is no thought at all. If our party leaders are distracting us from critically evaluating the choices, we are doing our Constitution a disservice.
Our politicians should not be so desperate for a close that all ethics fall by the wayside. Fellow graduates, we are young, we are bright, we are idealistic and we are (as of June 7) free! We will vote with our cortex, and not our animal brain!
Natalie Landau is a senior at Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts. This is her final column for the Education section.