It's hard to imagine not knowing something about politics in 2012. After all, in a world filled with opinions in every tweet, status, and most-watched video of the day, it's challenging to not feel pulled and stretched by groups of people who all want you to believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong.
There is nothing wrong with preferring one political party over another as a teenager, just as there is nothing wrong with liking Justin Bieber over One Direction or being part of #TeamiPhone over #TeamDroid. In fact, with approximately 46 million youth eligible to vote in 2012, becoming politically informed and active is one of the best things teenagers can do. However, what is wrong is happily drinking the blue or red-flavored drinks all the way to November 6 without really looking at the facts.
Lately, I have often seen my Facebook friends say things like "Obama hasn't done anything for this country" -- and that simply isn't true.
While President Obama has only kept approximately 37 percent of 190 of his campaign promises, as checked by PolitiFact, he has compromised on 14 percent of them and only broken 16 percent with another 22 percent of promises currently in the works and the remaining 10 percent flat-out stalling since he has been in office.
Of course, on the opposite side of the spectrum, there are people who claim "Bush completely ruined the country," and that too simply isn't true.
For instance, under President Bush minority home ownership grew by 2.7 million and under his administration, the nation's security grew tighter and more efficient in the wake of 9/11 with the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security.
Of course, politics just aren't that black-and-white -- there's a lot of gray area. Cases for the successes and failures of both President Obama and President Bush can be made and debated, but the simple fact is that often the most repeated criticisms of the two have little merit when examined under the factual microscope.
It is important for us as young people to look at the facts and draw our own informed conclusions about politicians both from the past and in the present. As much as most of us will haughtily deny it, we are a very impressionable demographic. We see a cat playing the piano and believe it's real, or hear that a celebrity has died and quickly hashtag our respect for them before realizing that they are in fact very alive and well. So why shouldn't the same be true when we hear half-truths about a politician or ugly stereotypes about a political party?
The truth is, we have all been guilty of playing the part of judge, jury, and executioner on our little soapboxes in the realm of social networking, but we have often neglected the role of investigator.
So if you are one of the 46 million newly-eligible voters this November, take that opportunity seriously. You are part of a huge demographic that has the ability to change the outcome of an election. But when you vote for a candidate, don't vote for them because your friends are doing it, or because your parents and family are strongly loyal to one political party over the other. Vote for a candidate that you believe in. Vote for a party that you believe represents you the best and, as the saying goes, "Stand up for what you believe in even if you're standing alone."
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