Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

How to negate the political sea

Carlyssa Phoon

When it comes to American Politics, there is a sea of information to navigate. Policy, elections, candidates and the sheer volume of information can intimidate young voters who do not actively follow or participate in politics. 

Becoming engaged in the political scene can seem daunting, especially when you aren’t sure where to start. Since politics involves so many topics, I have found it helpful to focus on a section I am passionate about that directly impacts my life and follow the facts, figures and policies surrounding it. 

“I think for some people are interested in politics because as you go through college and you start getting your first job, you’re more invested in the things that taxes pay for,” said Gina Masullo, an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Media at UT. “So naturally, you’re more interested, it’s the first time people start paying and thinking about themselves as independent adults.” 

Whether or not you choose to be an active civil participant, politics will eventually affect us personally in some way or another. That impact varies due to independent circumstances, but that fact remains universal. 

“The people who are able to not care about politics it’s because nothing in politics changed your life,” Masullo said. “But it’s going to eventually happen, politicians will take away something you do care about.”

The passion you feel for a topic is almost always directly connected to you. After Roe v. Wade was overturned, there was a significant voter response as many voters felt that the issue belonged to them directly on both sides. 

“It’s very important to first read (and) first figure out ‘What do I want out of politics?’ Why should I care? And once you can answer those questions for yourself, that’s the time to get into activism,” said Jackson Paul, a finance senior and co-chair for the UT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas. 

Voters should stay informed on issues they find passion and direct impact in. Following media, 

registering to vote and going to the polls in response to engagement are a few steps voters can take. A deeper interest in more political issues will likely come as a result. 

“Honestly, right now, a lot of young people are interested because some of the things they consider rights are being taken away,” Masullo said. “So that seems like that might be something that would provoke people to get more interested.”

From the outside, politics can seem like a deeply combative thing that can drive some people away; however, underneath that perceived notion is an onset of engaging issues and opportunities for involvement and activism. 

“What I enjoyed about politics wasn’t the fights that are happening every new cycle, but the broader issues of how should society be set up,” Paul said. “How should it set its rules, and how should allocate its resources. Those broader questions in terms of politics were first what really drew me in.”

Most times, it’s intimidating for new voters trying to navigate the media attached to politics. 

There is a stigma surrounding the journalism industry as many believe it to be biased, and apart from that, there is a high volume of information. This can discourage those who are not yet engaged in the scene from choosing to consume it. 

“My biggest recommendation would be to know where you’re getting your information and don’t just accept it from anywhere, seek out news organizations that you personally trust, and go to those so that you have a pre-existing trust with them,” Masullo said.

In beginning to navigate political media, many younger voters may turn to social media for information; however, when doing so, they should proceed with caution. 

“Don’t get information just from a tweet or an Instagram post,” Masullo said. “That’s one thing I see a lot is someone will take a link to a story and then they’ll tweet about what that link says. But that tweet isn’t accurate, but the story is accurate.”

“We have a country that lets us be free, be relatively safe, and have the chance to develop and live the life that we want,” Paul said. “And this isn’t natural, many people around the world and throughout history have not had these freedoms. And if we’re not careful, we can lose these freedoms.”

As the nation’s newest voters, finding our place in the political world is very intimidating. It is imperative that instead of shying away from the field, we discover a window into something we find ourselves easily engaged in. The rest will follow, and result in an active and educated generation of brand-new participants. 

Meltzer is a Rhetoric and Writing Freshman from San Antonio, Texas. 

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