Learning to form your own political opinion

voteBefore you know it, your eighteenth birthday rolls around and you are legally able to register to vote. This can be a very scary concept for many people, which is completely understandable. As someone who is just stepping onto the voting scene, I too have struggled with trying to form opinions on controversial issues that I hadn’t put much thought to prior to turning 18.  If politics has always been an “adult only” topic, the idea of voting responsibly may seem overwhelming.

The first thing to do is to educate yourself on issues that you feel are important to you. It is helpful to explore all sides of the controversy because you may discover something you had not thought of before. It doesn’t mean you were wrong, it simply means you’re learning and becoming a better person because of it. Once you have a general idea on what you believe, it can be difficult to find which presidential candidate or incumbent shares similar ideals. Again have no fear, there are many resources available. One that I find particularly helpful is votesmart.org. This website provides you with the ability to answer questions by topic and shows how similar you are to each of the candidates. It also allows you to see how incumbents have voted on various issues in the past. There are many other websites, just look around!

Finding unbiased and rhetoric-free speeches and information from any politician can be difficult but possible by simply recognizing the rhetoric being used to try and persuade you. Doing this allows you to begin to pull out the facts rather than just be swayed by what you hear.

The last and possibly most important thing to remember is not everyone is going to agree with you and that’s okay! It may be someone as close to you as a parent or sibling or someone as distant as that guy protesting on the corner. No matter who it is, don’t let their opinions steer you away from your true beliefs. Political issues are very controversial and that is part of what makes this country what it is. After all, if everyone agreed on every single thing in life it’d be pretty boring, don’t you think?

– Katlyn