2020: Opinions, facts, politics and young people

By Sophia Mazer

The year 2020 has been strange and unforgettable. We spent months away from school, our friends, and our families, and the country is about to elect (or re-elect) a president. The fact it is a leap year has been forgotten due to the craziness of the Coronavirus and the drama surrounding the presidential candidates. It seems impossible to live a day in America without talking about either. The craziness of 2020 is on full display.

Being right and wrong

Everyone has opinions. Everyone. And everyone is entitled to have an a opinion. In America, you have a right to be wrong. And many of us are, even if we do not know (or believe) it.

We use facts to prove we are right, but facts can be wrong. How? Well, facts can be manipulated, skewed, and misrepresented, and people generally cherry pick the facts that help their arguments and ignore the ones that hurt them.

Saying that oil and water don’t mix is a fact that has been proven by science. But you could put oil and water into the same container and sort of mix them up…right?

There is a huge difference between thinking that you are right and actually being it, but can an opinion be both right and wrong? The answer is yes. Every single person thinks differently. Every person has reasons for thinking they are right. 

We all have tried, but it is really hard to change another person’s opinion. You can argue vehemently, but most people will believe what they want. It’s ultimately their choice what to think. If they like the color orange but you like the color red, it will be awfully difficult to convince them that red is superior. And the more you try, the more likely the conversation will end in an argument.

Most do not argue about colors, but many argue about politics. Even though politics are far more important, the color example above fits.

The election season naturally creates many disagreements and arguments about why one candidate is better than the other. Our conversations are dominated by these debates. We fight back and forth, but people’s views rarely change. You just can’t make someone believe that your opinion is best unless they already agree with you.

You can encourage people to vote for a certain candidate, and you can explain the benefits of voting for a specific person, but you can’t just make someone see politics the way you do. 

Social Media silliness

Look briefly at Facebook and Twitter, and you will see people arguing about politics. While it is not necessarily pointless to express your views, it is completely pointless to fight about them, and many of these fights happen online. Arguing online will probably make the problem worse. At the end of the day, what does getting angry with people do to help your cause? Your opinion stays the same (as does the other person’s) plus you’re annoyed or angry.

People put their political opinions out there on social media where everyone can see them. It’s impossible go on any app without receiving an ad or finding a page that has to do with politics. Where politics are discussed, fights happen. No one wins. We all lose.

The best way to express your opinion

This article is not going to talk about the candidates, but it will explain the best way to express your opinion in one word: VOTE.

We are too young to officially cast a ballot, but we aren’t far off from being eligible to participate in one of democracy’s greatest freedoms. The sad truth is approximately half of those who are eligible to vote actually cast a ballot, and young people make up the smallest percentage of voters. Chances are more than half of the people in this country have opinions and complaints.

The United States has two major parties; the Democrats and the Republicans. While there are some smaller and less known parties out there, these two parties are the biggest.

The presidential election works differently from other elections in the USA. The president and vice president are not always chosen by the popular vote. Instead, a process called the Electoral College is how they’re chosen. 

In this process, each state, excluding Maine and Nebraska (they use something called a proportioning system, which we will not be getting into.), silent electors represent the voters of each state.

Forty eight states and Washington D.C. have electors, who are members of state government. Overall, there are 538 electors. For a candidate to win the election, they need to win over half of the electoral votes (over 270). The electors don’t vote on their personal opinions. Instead, they vote in favor of the candidate that won the state’s popular vote.

We can usually predict the outcome of an election by looking at the state results and the Electoral College votes earned, but those votes are not cast until December. The number of electors each state has depends on the population of the state. California has around 53 and Pennsylvania has around 20.

In December, they take the majority from each state’s poll and add up the total number of Congressional votes (by state majority). This determines the winner. 

We should be opinionated

It’s important to have an opinion even if you can’t vote. When you think about it, some SAMS students will be voting in the next presidential election, and many of us already have political opinions.

A politically aware SAMS student recently expressed that we should be educated and eager to vote. The student said: “it’s really about the lifestyle you live when you choose a candidate to vote for.”

There is wisdom in this view. If you like certain policies that a candidate is offering, then that candidate should earn your vote.

“The way you grow up helps determine what you perceive as right and wrong,” the student added.

We all have people influencing us and we learn from those people. Some of our influences are positive but others are negative. We need to determine who to trust and believe and the same is true about politicans.

“People are going to see what they want to see,” the student said, while acknowledging the importance of knowing both sides of a political issue. Most people will still have some sort of bias but we should all try to understand other views.

All in all, it’s good to have an opinion on politics, but as the article hints above, we probably shouldn’t talk about politics at the dinner table.

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