“A Republic, Ma’am, If You Can Keep It.”

I’m going to preface this by saying that I realize this is not the kind of thing I said I would be posting on this blog. The history posts are coming, I promise. But more than anything, this blog is my voice, and right now, I have something to say.

I am frustrated, and I am angry. This is not about nationalism, or, “Oh, America is the BEST country” or anything along those lines. America is far from perfect, it always has been, and I think there are a lot of us that need to open our eyes to that fact.

But the American government was supposed to be better. At its conception it was revolutionary, and now it’s in shambles. I can’t pretend to be an expert on politics and government, American or otherwise, but I’m studying, and learning, and the more I learn, the more frustrated I get because it isn’t supposed to be this way.

Everything about our government right now is so convoluted and complicated and confused that, for me at least, it feels almost impossible to know what to believe and who to believe and where I want to plant my feet. I want to know what’s going on, and keep myself informed, and be able to form my own opinions, but it is hard. Not impossible, but hard. Aside from the confusion, our political environment is so hostile on every front that not only is voicing an opinion scary, but even forming one can be incredibly daunting in the face of all the anger.

However, before leaping up to condemn the hostility and vitriol, I think we need to look at why it’s there in the first place. Younger people (like myself) in particular get a lot of flack for that. But we are scared. I am scared. We are being presented with a very, very broken system that we have yet had very little, if any, part in creating. A system that appears impossible to repair.

And we’re belittled for our fear, we’re belittled for voicing our opinions and saying, “Hey, maybe it shouldn’t be this way?” We’re told to sit down and shut up because we’re young and don’t know what we’re talking about, while simultaneously being condemned and ridiculed for not caring about anything but our tech, our social media, our selfies. We’re just “snowflakes”. We are mocked for our fear, so we translate it to anger because even if we’re still being mocked, at least we feel a little less vulnerable that way, and maybe, maybe, someone will take us seriously.

I don’t know what it looked like to generations before me, when they were my age. I wasn’t there. Maybe things seemed just as daunting. Maybe this whole post is just teenage angst manifesting itself. Maybe I really am just overreacting. But I think that almost anyone you ask will say that politics in America are unprecedentedly nightmarish right now.

Obviously I don’t want a government run by 16-20 year olds, for a lot of the reasons I listed earlier. I don’t know what my opinions are because I haven’t had time to form them yet. I’m still trying to figure who I am and what’s important to me, and that should be ok. I realize that my perspective is limited by my age, but because so many young people feel like older generations, those who are in power, mock and ignore and continue to try to silence us, a sense of helplessness has arisen, which again, we translate to anger.

I am angry because I am watching my country tear itself apart, because I am looking at my government which has grown into a monstrosity that is so far from what it was created to be that it’s almost unrecognizable, because I am watching people, my peers, my countrymen, if you will, suffer while the rich and the powerful sit on their thrones and do nothing. They pay lip service to our fears, but do only what is necessary to keep themselves at the top. They have become so removed from the people they are supposed to be speaking for that even if they wanted to, they could not represent us. I am angry because when I say “There’s a problem,” I am met with “Okay, little girl, what’s your solution?” Teenagers shouldn’t have to be the ones suggesting the solutions, but if it’s either that or continue to ignore the problems, it’s no surprise that we’re trying to step up anyway, however clumsy and misguided we may be. If the adults aren’t going to do it, we have to.

I realize that I’m speaking somewhat vaguely and abstractly. The biggest reason for that is that as far as policy goes, I will readily admit that I am either not well informed enough, or I don’t understand enough of it to be confident in voicing an opinion. If the senators passing healthcare bills don’t even read them, how in the world am I supposed to? Politics aside, our very legislation is shrouded in so much technical jargon that even those charged with passing it don’t even bother with trying to understand it.

We have very nearly lost our republic. I want to know if we can save it.

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