Coup de Grace: US needs politically educated voters

News Editor Grace Mottley attempts to end deteriorating institutions and ideas of our society through a Coup de Grâce, a “decisive blow or finishing act,” as she questions the culture we live in. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, so what better way to change society than writing about it.


Political awareness seems to be very low on our society’s list of priorities. Condemning the government and those who lead it is a pastime enjoyed by many, but it seems that the majority of these complainers are unable to identify their district’s congressional representative.

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that the average American scores a 42 percent on a quiz about key facts in the news. This shockingly low number is an indicator of an increasingly apparent truth: our elders don’t understand what’s going on with our country. The majority’s ignorance, or sheer indifference, proves that the generation currently tasked with fixing America is unable to do so.

It will be the job of younger generations, of our generation, to steer America onto the path of success.

It will be our job to reform the society we live in. This sounds inspirational to some, but without a change in our behaviors, we will be no different than our predecessors. Millennials are significantly less likely to be politically involved than their baby-boomer counterparts were, and only about 20 percent of millennials say they are politically engaged, according to a study conducted by the Harvard Institute on Politics.

We have no political knowledge, and we have a country to fix.

Our age group is slowly gaining the ability to vote, but if our lack of political engagement continues, we will elect potentially disastrous legislators and contribute to the seemingly crumbling morals of our legislative system.

We all know voting is important. The significance of placing our ballots has been hammered into our brains, but the significance of an educated voter goes unmentioned. Casting a random vote on election day is just as ineffective as not voting at all.

Voting without a basic understanding of candidates and issues can result in electing a candidate who doesn’t share your political views. Selecting a candidate indicates that their beliefs mirror your own and that they will represent your beliefs in the legislature, so if you randomly select a politician, you give a possibly untrustworthy person permission to represent you in the policy making system, even if they will act against your beliefs.

Students who can vote are not the only ones who need to be politically involved. Everyone will eventually be able to vote, and those who already have a basic understanding of the workings of the political system when time comes will be significantly better off because of it.  

The legislative system is one that continually evolves. In a certain way, it’s similar to learning math. If you don’t pay attention to algebra, by the time you get to calculus, you’ll be lost. You can catch up, but it’s significantly harder to do well if you don’t have a grasp of the concepts that you were supposed to understand previously.

We need to be paying attention to current events, whether we stay up to date through reading the newspaper, watching the news, or simply checking the news on a news app. In addition, having the occasional conversation about what’s happening around us can help raise our level of awareness.

An increase in our political involvement will not only enable us to elect leaders who are more likely to make our voices heard, but it will also allow us to become better leaders when the time comes.

For our age group to become effective leaders, we need to be learning from the events that are happening right now. We need to be able to identify what legislation works and what doesn’t. If our age group as a whole becomes more politically aware, we’ll be better equipped to handle the host of problems our country faces.

Grace Mottley is a News Editor for The Patriot and