As Election Day approaches, remember your biases and the nation’s options

Georgia Lawson, a freshman majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

Our parents shape us in profound ways as we grow up. We often keep their morals, convictions and prejudices with us long after we leave home.

As much as we’d all like to believe our decisions are completely and wholly our own, the truth is environmental factors are powerful in shaping our beliefs and assumptions. This is important to keep in mind during the next few weeks – so crucial, in fact, that our democracy depends on it.

Nov. 4 marks an important milestone in the lives of many Colonials: Election Day. While a politically active reputation is a key point of pride for GW, the upcoming election will be the first opportunity for many younger students to actually take to the polls.

With all the excitement this entails, it’s easy to cling to the party or set of political ideals on which we’ve been raised. But this natural tendency adds to mounting frustration toward the government. If we don’t understand why we vote for certain politicians, we won’t understand why they make their choices and we’ll likely grow dissatisfied with their actions.

Voters should recognize the vulnerability of their own beliefs to powerful environmental factors, primarily our families, who have pruned our conceptions of the world since birth. This process of political socialization is a leading predictor of how one will vote or adhere to a specific party, which means independent thought is being eclipsed by a years of influence. While aligning to a party is not a bad thing, doing so blindly is dangerous.

Maybe if we all took a step back to reconsider our country’s political options on our own, we wouldn’t be stuck with a Congress of such high reelection rates and low popularity. We can blame the government all we want for not getting things done, but in the end, we’re the ones who continue to vote them in – or, worse yet, don’t vote at all.

It’s about time we start reexamining our choices before we hit the polls, rather than two years later. As Election Day approaches, be sure to exercise caution and keep in mind the critical balance between beliefs and knowledge, or rather what our biases lead us to believe and what the reality of the situation actually is. Don’t rely on inherited beliefs.

Society is constantly changing, so educate yourself and be judicious. Then maybe we can start to clean up the mess in politics for good.

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