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Shannon Griswold October 27, 2013 Paper #2Political Awareness and Attitudes POLS 1100, T/R 11:30 AM

Paper #2--Political Awareness and Attitudes The United States of America is unique in many ways, but the most distinctive element of our country is its form of government. As citizens of the United States, we have the power to let our voice be heard and alter our government to meet our needs. However, there is an unfortunate trend sweeping across the U.S. pertaining to the political knowledge and education of our youth. While there are a growing number of young adults, many remain politically inactive and are unaware of governmental procedures, policies, and actions. Case in point, the Survey of Contemporary Political Awareness and Issues that our Politics class completed at the beginning of the year displays this exact lack of political knowledge. With an average age of 20.2, this class is relatively youthful, but it appears that my classmates and I are unaware of the current events happening in our government. We were even lacking in the basic understanding of who is running our country. Only 40% of us could identify the president and the vice president of the United States. This is very discomforting, considering that my generation is approximated to make up one third of the countrys total votes in 2015 (Young Democrats of America). The class percentages decreased when asked about Utahs executive and legislative branches. This inability to identify members of our national and state government is a reflection of how politically uneducated many young adults are today. In addition to the lack of knowledge about leaders of our government, many of us seem to be either clueless or very torn between political issues. According to our class statistics, 40% percent of us claimed to be liberal and 30% consider themselves conservative. Obviously, liberals are supposed to be the majority, but the responses to the next ten questions did not coordinate with the percentage of claimed liberals. If liberals were truly the majority, then all ten of the questions should have won in favor of the common liberal view. However, this was not true, according to the following responses. For example, question number 4 asks: Should law

abiding citizens have the right to keep and bear arms? 80% of the class said yes, while only 10% said no. Typically, liberals would respond no because they believe the government should take action in providing more strict laws to make it more difficult to obtain a concealed weapon. Conservatives would say yes because they believe that it is a Constitutional right that should not be altered. However, I do understand that controversial topics like might cause a conservative to respond in a liberal way and a liberal to respond in a conservative way. Nevertheless, the results from the series of questions do not match up with students claimed political views. This disequilibrium probably comes from two main causes: 1) the complexity of controversial topics like the gun control; and 2) simply the lack of understanding about these current issues and what a conservative typically says and what a liberal typically says. After evaluating the ten last questions, I think that the class would be split 50/50. According to our responses, half of the class should be liberal and the other half should be conservative. I discovered this through a simple, systematic process. On my survey sheet, I circled all of the responses that technically should have been conservative. Next, I went through each question and compared the two percentages (yes or no percentages). If the one I had circled was greater than the other, I marked an X next to it, to show that the liberal view did not win that case. If the one I had circled was less than the other, I put a check mark next to it, to show that the liberal view had won. I ended up with five Xs and five check marks50% and 50%. The class, according to those statistics, is ultimately half conservative and half liberal. However, in my opinion, I think that the class is more liberal than conservative. The responses during class discussions seem to me much more Democratic than Republican. Although this may or may not be completely true (perhaps the liberals in the class tend to speak up more than the conservatives), this is my general assumption about the youth in our country

anyways. In fact, statistics show that American young adults and youth are swayed more towards the liberal views. In 2012, 60% of voters under the age of 30 voted for Obama as opposed to 36% that voted for Romney (CIRCLE Staff). This is why I have anticipated my class to be dominantly liberal. In conclusion, I hope that this Government and Politics course is a wake-up call for many of us in this class (including me). I now see the lack of education and understanding of political issues and attitudes in my own generation. It is very important that we become politically educated and involved. We live in a country that allows us to take action in our government and politics, so I think that we should all take that to our advantage. I will continue to enhance my political education and explore my opportunities to make and/or keep the alterations of our constantly-transforming government.

Works Cited
CIRCLE Staff. "Young Voters in the 2012 Presidential Election." The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement 13 November 2012: 2. Young Democrats of America. Youth Voting Stats. 2011. 28 October 2013. <http://www.yda.org/resources/youth-vote-statistics/>.