Why should we care about what’s going on in Washington, D.C. today? It’s over 2,000 miles away from Rexburg, Idaho. And whatever happens there, most of us will wake up in the same bed tomorrow, living the same life. Right?
I’m not trying to judge anyone; I thought that same way as a teenager. To 15-year-old me, politics were negative, news sources were biased and political jargon was too hard to follow.
That mindset changed during my senior year of high school; I stepped out of my comfort zone to take a U.S. government and politics class. My teacher required that we bring a piece of political news to share with the class each day.
That year, I voted in my local election. I participated in political conversations at dinner with my parents, who have very different political views. I felt empowered. I understood how to politically educate myself for the first time in my life.
While the current events of our national government may seem distant, they are relevant to everyone who lives in the United States. We at Scroll believe residents of any country have a duty to be informed about the political climate they live in.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not tell its members which political parties to follow; however, it does “encourage its members to play a role as responsible citizens in their communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections.”
With the 2020 United States presidential election less than a year away, we need to be civically literate to confidently vote in the election.
But civic literacy in the United States faces abysmal statistics. A recent study conducted by C-SPAN revealed that 90% of likely voters agreed with the following statement: “Decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court have an impact on my everyday life as a citizen.” Yet, only 57% of likely voters could name a single member of the Supreme Court.
What can be done?
I’ve always struggled with wasting time on social media. Last month, I decided to change. Instead of wasting a couple of hours each day scrolling through my Facebook news feed, I created a new rule.
My rule was, before opening up social media, I had to scroll through the news and read a couple of articles each day.
This required that I found a trustworthy national news source. It took patience. After some searching, I settled on Google News, because it compiles stories from many different national news sources.
As a result, I learned about some of the presidential candidates in the running for next year’s election, and I figured out exactly what was going on with the Trump impeachment proceedings.
We need to follow these proceedings; they are making history.
To this date, there has never been a U.S. president removed from office by impeachment, and only three presidents have ever faced official impeachment proceedings.
Yes, the details of the impeachment proceedings may seem convoluted, but look for sources that break it down. You can find information on websites, podcasts, radio, television or social media.
President Trump currently faces impeachment proceedings because a member of the CIA filed a whistleblower complaint that said, “I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. Election.”
The House of Representatives’ investigation revealed that President Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden, the former vice president and a Democratic presidential candidate. In exchange, Trump agreed to give increased military aid to Ukraine.
The current debate is whether Trump’s actions constitute impeachable offenses.
The result of these proceedings may create a precedent for how we will define the “other high crimes and misdemeanors” alluded to in the U.S. Constitution section about impeachable offenses. They may also impact the 2020 presidential election.
If you think the presidential election next November seems too far away, consider that the national caucuses and primary elections begin in February.
Catching up on the national political news for just five minutes each day is a marginal price to pay for increased civic literacy. Remember that we are the rising generation of leaders in the world. We need to pay attention to politics because decisions made in Washington D.C. will impact the future — our future.