The Student News Site of Northern Michigan University

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind Editorial Sessions
About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Politics should be discussed at dinner table

With Thanksgiving a week away, many people will be heading home to see their families and have a great Thanksgiving dinner. While eating copious amounts of food, it is likely great conversation between friends and family will take place. At some point, in polite conversation, someone might break the great cultural rule and dare to speak about banned subjects like politics, religion, or philosophy. Doing so will likely halt the conversation, invite glares toward the person in question, or even start a fight. Why, though? Why are these topics of arguably the highest importance, off-limits in favor of more trivial topics of weather and sports? This ban on discussion of politics, religion or philosophy is harming our ability to understand one another, accomplish things politically, and stamp out remnants of outdated, illogical, and sometimes hateful ideas.

There is nothing wrong with discussion about weather or sports. These conversations can often be enjoyable and good filler or ice-breakers. However, this is not what our discussions should be limited to. Our resistance to speak about important issues that affect our world may make us feel more comfortable, but it is not helping. The reason such conversations make us uncomfortable is that we avoid them. The only way we can become more comfortable talking about those difficult issues is to practice it and make it more of a normal occurrence. When someone brings up the topic engage and challenge them instead of fleeing. These conversations lead to better understanding of other people’s views and your own by forcing you to examine your views critically.

Another problem in our modern political culture is our increasing polarity and sorting into like-minded groups. It’s a natural tendency for people to gravitate toward those who are similar to them. It is also equally natural for a group of people to begin adopting and conforming to similar opinions, but simply because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s good. Often if we even have the chance to make different-minded friends, we may either avoid them, expect them to conform or avoid those uncomfortable discussions altogether. Communities have been becoming more politically segregated for decades now. Voting districts are much less competitive and more solidly Democrat or Republican than they have ever been before, giving almost assured victories to a certain party with only rare exceptions like Scott Brown the Republican senator of Massachusetts. This like-minded polarization is yet another hindrance to good democratic debate and segregates us from different views that may be better or at the least different.

Probably the biggest problem in our modern political culture is apathy. People just don’t seem to care about some of the biggest issues that face us. The majority of registered Americans did not vote in the last election. Some estimates say 42 percent voted, which is actually up from previous mid-term elections, but still very low, and doesn’t take into account the number of eligible voters who are not even registered. What is even sadder is that voting is just about the bare minimum someone can do to contribute to the political climate in America. There is so much more that can be done from participating in a campaign, debating, writing editorials, making your voice heard, contacting your representative, rallying, signing petitions, or even running for office yourself. Many feel that there is nothing they can do or that none of the choices are sufficiently appealing to them. This is simply a self-fulfilling prophecy, because when they do nothing, there really is little they can do to effect change, and their choice to stay out of politics only reinforces bad candidates because there is absolutely no reason a representative should concern themselves with an apathetic non-voter. The simple truth is that if you want to change something, you must do something others will not do it for you and you have no room to complain when things don’t go your way. Go out and engage in difficult conversations, make friends with people of different views, and pull yourself out of the self-defeating logic and do something that effects a real change.

Story continues below advertisement
More to Discover