Don't be afraid to form your own opinion on political issues

Educating yourself and taking other's opinions with a grain of salt are vital in today's society.

Educating yourself and taking other's opinions with a grain of salt are vital in today's society.

Image By: Karolina Grabowska STAFFAGE

In a college setting where we are situated within a campus of 40,000 students, it can be hard to formulate your own opinion. when you are graded in class discussions on your ability to collaborate with and listen to others, it can be hard to separate what you believe from what others think.

We have been told to respect the opinions of others all our lives, which I still condone, but recently it seems like instead of respecting opinions of others we have become lazy and taken the opinions of others as our own. And with the current political environment, it is essential for one to come to their own conclusions about which candidate to vote for in the 2016 presidential election. 

These days it seems like every corner you turn there is a new article telling you who you should vote for along with a Facebook post shared by your friend telling you who you shouldn’t vote for. 

While gathering information and different viewpoints is ideal for making an educated vote, there is a difference between having your opinion made through others and having others make your opinion. 

It can be hard to set aside  time to do research on each stance while balancing school and social events as well, but when it comes to events as important as a presidential election, students should make sure they know where the candidates stand. More importantly, students should know where they stand with each candidate. 

This election season has been a whirlwind of email controversies, hot microphones and an overall feeling of “he said, she said” journalism and debates. One day it seems like a candidate is leagues ahead in the polls and the next day a story is released quoting their history as a case to prove they are unfit for office. Because of this, it is hard for students, and American voters in general, to decide whom to believe when it comes down to filling in the bubbles on Election Day.

I’m not arguing that one should unplug from all news sources to place themselves in a completely unbiased political world. That would cause a more negative and harmful effect to the United States this election season. 

But when reading each new argument given about why or why not a candidate is ready for the office, always filter the article with the mindset that you can take pointers from what is being said—just don’t change your mind completely based on what one person is saying. This creates the feeling that you are word-vomiting what someone else thinks when you are discussing with someone else. We all are able to tell when someone is saying another’s ideas verbatim.

When faced against fellow classmates, professors and members of the UW-Madison campus community on the topics of this election season, it can be daunting to remember every stance the candidates take. But when the moment arises when you draw a blank or frankly don’t know where one stands, it is better to say “I haven’t really read much about that, let me do some research and I’ll get back to you,” then to give a response that you don’t believe in. Say what you believe in, not what others have made you believe you have to say. 

I’m not going to tell you how to make your own decisions because it is up to the individual to choose which news sources to pull from and what friend group to debate with. But it is up to us as educated students to distinguish our debates from others by having them center on our own opinions and not others. Don’t turn your conversations to an argument over what “he” said or “she” said, as these are likely not even correctly attributed. But take some time to decide who you believe is the right choice for president and stick to your beliefs when you find yourself in the next political environment. 

Lilly is a junior majoring in journalism and communication arts. How have you communicated with people about this year’s election?  What steps do you take to form your own opinion and not be too swayed by the opinions of others? Please send all comments, questions and concerns to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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