On Civic Duty to Vote

We as citizens have a right to vote, no a responsibility to. To be active members of our community and to express our right to vote as a voice in our democracy. For not being active citizens make us helpless and content with the faults of our government which not only hurts our lives but the lives of our neighbors.

We as citizens shouldn’t vote, especially given that our voice has so little sway and won’t actually affect the outcome of the election. Not to mention that being our relative inexperience to the complexities of adulthood and the history of our nation, we should really refine our views before casting an inexperienced and uninformed vote out into the annals of democracy.

Voting should be a reflection of the populous and thus should represent the views of the people, by not voting we are causing voting to be represented by only the most impassioned and radical of viewpoints swaying the major voter bases from the central, to the more far left and far right causing increased partisanship and lack of cooperation and less efficient government.

Voting is a reflection of the people by promoting the idea of voting being a mandatory thing along with getting informed about the civic issues what occurs is a majority of uninformed voters who believe they are informed, which in turn makes news and coverage skew toward this massive uninformed public thus dumbing down and making politics more about rhetorical manipulation as opposed to actual informed opinions.

The best way to become an active citizen in our nation is to form, challenge, refine and learn as students of our society. By participating in the civic duty we have to vote we are becoming active citizens and thus becoming more informed making our viewpoints more intelligent.

By forming opinions so fast we gain bias that prevents us from learning as quickly, if we wait to form opinions and become ‘active’ citizens we gain experience so that when we finally form opinions those opinions will be much more thorough thus making our viewpoints more intelligent.

The group being underrepresented at the polls is the younger generation, by not participating as much in voting we make it so that the future leaders of the nation can’t properly have the infrastructure to excel. If we vote and become active members of our political community we can help the future by having the best knowledge of what we need to be the best we can be.

By having younger voters pressured to vote so much we are causing many more uninformed voters at the polls. Due to the complexity of politics and the overall unhelpful press we are feeding back into having simplistic easy to formulate ideologies reigning supreme, which is causing political regression. This makes all positions on a topic less informed and thus less able to properly refute each others claims, causing an increase to partisanship.



Half of the nation thinks that they are voting for the correct candidate, and passionately so. But how do I know I’m on the correct side? How do I know that I’m not one of the delusional uninformed voters, even if I am (ridiculously unlikely) thorough enough to check my facts, how many people have gone much deeper than I and had the opposite outcome, could I truly out justify the experts of economic theory when I decide I’m capitalist, or communist. Even if I have a 55% chance to pick the best candidate for the future of the country, will my new found biases keep me from developing further? Is it better if I wait a while and get a 60% chance to pick the best candidate in the future but not have the bias due to my better mental maturity and insight?

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t vote, but I think we need to delve deeper before we all jump on the bandwagon to get young voters, I’d rather have 1000 really diverse and informed people  than 1000000 uninformed people decide the future of our country. So I think that you have a civic duty to know when you should and shouldn’t vote. But whatever you decide, the worst thing you can do is vote uninformed.

Change in speech level of inauguration speeches 1800-2000 based on  Flesch-Kincaid readability test. Graph by Derek Thompson. Simpler Times: Presidential Speeches Through History from http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/10/have-presidential-speeches-gotten-less-sophisticated-over-time/381410/

There is proof that the level of speeches by U.S. presidents has been trending downwards, some of this is good. It means that speeches aren’t being solely targeted toward rich educated white guys. But some of it is bad, it’s becoming harder to get the nuances of the complexities of politics when we only get the abridged simplified versions.

University Safe Space

Regardless of intent, there is a negative connotation associated with ‘safe spaces’.


There are truths which seem self-evident in our society, discrimination exists in our world, human beings should have opportunities, and do onto others as you would have them do onto you. We accept these truths as axioms in our everyday discussion, and when consideration is given against those ideas we feel incredibly aggravated at the source.  And rightfully so, as I would contend that all of those three are obvious. However, I believe that there is no way many of us could justify their truth to somebody dedicated to dismantling their foundations. I’ve spent a large chunk of my life surrounded (about 40% of the population I’m guessing) by people who would challenge our axioms. This is an issue. Discussion can only get us so far toward the change in the world we seek to empower. When we neglect to consider the inconsiderable, we nullify our ability to understand the opposition and thus the source of our problems. As an example, in one of my classes we were discussing patriotism and how it can be used as a rationale for institutionalized racism. I can tell you that patriotism is merely a scapegoat reason given to the public when in reality there is a fundamental belief system instilled at a young age whose justification relies on challenging the very axioms we take for granted.

We need to consider the inconsiderable, not because it may make us change our opinions and become bigoted, not because we want to spread their message farther, but to understand the complexity, intent, and basis for the problems we face today.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War


College safe spaces act to keep us insulated from the enemy, and instead of being focused on winning the war, we are focused on winning the battles. I want our generation to make a change, but the way of attacking by discussion of agreed upon axioms prevents us from learning why we are right. In my major of math, we will often consider our intuition wrong and try to derive truths from our incorrect vacuous ‘facts’, we will then see exactly the error in this misguided intuition. Proof by Contradiction. In the current state of affairs, by shunning and being disrespectful to people who disagree with our most sacred beliefs we are not only limiting ourselves this technique, but causing the opposition to be silent yet retain their beliefs. In order to most effectively make change we need to understand where we want change, and why that change hasn’t occurred. College safe spaces prevent this.

“The solution to our student’s weakness, so many critics all too often suggest, is bold, direct, repeated engagement with ideas that civil society has already deemed noxious, hateful and politically dangerous.” – Matthew Pratt Guterl


Matthew provided an excellent article promoting safe spaces, and I think introduce many of the problems which need addressing. The one I will tackle is that which this quote is suggesting. That without safe spaces there is no removal of oneself from repeated engagement with ideas which are hateful, noxious, and politically dangerous.

I completely agree that currently with our discussion first mentality to tackle issues we leave ourselves vulnerable against ideas which are hateful, noxious, and politically dangerous. However, I think that change is hard. With true change noxiousness should not be enough to deter us from our truths, because if it is, then we were not dedicated enough to the cause and likely had extrinsic pressures guiding us rather than intrinsic pressures, the power of motivation can be inspiring. Politically dangerous I disagree with however, by allowing dangerous ideas we can learn how to combat them in the real world. There comes a time when we need to prepare ourselves for dangerous ideas, and I can think of no better time than college.

Hatefulness is the biggest issue, should we allow ourselves to gain knowledge at the expense of potentially safety, and how much knowledge gained does it take for the tradeoff to be worth it? Surely if we gained so much knowledge that it helped make a resounding change for the future generations, then our safety now is not as important as the new safety gained for future generations. But are safe spaces a permanent or temporary fix?



Vaccines and Publication Pressure


Although there is a large population who agrees that vaccines don’t cause autism, there may be a few on the fence or believe that it does. I’m not going to spend so much time talking about why vaccines don’t cause autism, but here is a link if you are interested. No, instead I am going to discuss the two extremes on scientific opinion and the danger with each.

Skepticism implies Falsehood

There is a general consensus among many individuals in my family, and people I’ve met who will refuse evidence endlessly because of remote possibilities of bias or falsification of data. Has it happened that data has been wrong? Yes. On the scale of something such as vaccines or climate change? No. This doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, just that from our viewpoint the likelihood of such an event is so astronomically low that there is such discrepancy from independent sources on this data. It isn’t like there is an even split, and to consider that helps people like vaccines can be refuted by ONE party and gain such traction is a testament to how much bias there is out there. But even if you are still skeptical, do you know how dangerous it is to distrust science and hurt publics opinion of science? Even if there is bias in a few large facts, to disregard science as a whole can be the difference between having the proper medicine or not in time for a person with an illness. It is dangerous to disregard science as a whole on the falsification of a few.

Blind Belief

Despite seeming like a direct opposite of the above, this can easily lead to skepticism, and maybe denouncement of science. While, I just warned of the dangers of skepticism, that doesn’t mean that what one reads in science magazine is necessarily always true. This is a huge problem, as peer review is really the only measure in place to ensure good research. The problem isn’t that the scientific community is filled with self-interested individuals doing sketchy research, it’s that we are really bad at making small logical errors in our work. Sometimes we catch these errors, other times they are hidden. It is very difficult to always catch these errors, however, usually there will be intense backlash if something is wrong in a respected journal.  We can’t believe everything we hear in science, and this problem is amplified when learning science via scientific news. If you are an expert in something and ever saw a news article detailing it, there is an incredibly high chance what will be said is wrong, even if almost true. One needs to take science news with that same grain of salt.

Publication Pressure

A much more concerning issue is that of publication pressure. As the Globe and Mail puts it “fabricated papers in medical journals with fake peer reviews written by fabricated specialists.” https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/chinas-problem-with-fake-research-papers/article35937439/

One needs to consider; how did the problem get so bad? The answer is funding. Funding follows publication and so the more you publish, the more funding you get, while we do have fairly severe repercussions for such actions, the problem is that small fabrications of data can be very hard to catch, and the issue is that other papers may reference what is found in an earlier paper, which could have false data. This compounding problem can waste a lot of time, and this is the true danger of false data, as bad as it may be for your findings, it could be worse for somebody else’s findings. So be questioning, not skeptical, always double check your work, and what you base your research on.

License to Grill (Parenting Licenses)

Should parenting require a license?

I recently read from the book “The Right To Be Loved” by Matthew Liao, and while the book had merit, a certain topic gleamed through and showed a perfect example of a problem I have with most proposals and discussions on social issues have

Child Protective Services says that “About four out of five abusers are the victims’ parents.” and “In 2015, an estimated 1,670 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States. In 2015, Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country served more than 311,000“http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/media-room/media-kit/national-statistics-child-abuse child victims of abuse, So clearly not all parents are fit to be parents. But how can we create a way of vetting to ensure that people who enter the parenting world are fit. By licenses of course. As LaFollette, and many others have decided to come up with a licensing scheme.http://www.hughlafollette.com/papers/lic-par.htm

Which rests on three main assumptions. That in order to require a license.

a) An activity has potential to harm others

b)The activity requires a competency level for its safe performance

c)There exists reliable procedure to determine whether an individual is competent to safely perform said activity.

In this case that would be parenting, and while I think that this is a good start, this is where my disagreement really shines through.

Nearly all activities one performs in society fit the first requirement, the second is true of any activity in which humans are the only one’s capable of performing said action, and the third while important, has no discussion on the intrusiveness or potential harm one can have on society.  Consider how hard it is to define a fit parent using this definition. What would be the alternative and how would one go about making sure that people follow through. You can’t fine parents without licenses, because it may make the child much worse off if their parents can’t provide for them due to the fine. Taking a child away seems cruel, especially if the child has grown up a bit. And what would the alternative be. Foster Care System? It does raise a good point though, what should be done to have better parenting? Should we consider having incentives for licensed parents rather than punishments for unlicensed parents, and how can we pay for such incentives, not to mention the difficulties of deciding who is and isn’t a fit parent. Overall, I think that the topic is quite complex, and that we should probably not license parents, but I would love to hear any other ideas!

I brought up the example of parenting, not because the civic issue I believe has merit and will take off, but because it represents a trend I’ve noticed a lot in many arguments and proposals that have begun to gain traction, or to engage discussion. They all skip the defining of the terms used, or the goal one wants to achieve. If I asked somebody for a moral framework, it would be a decent starting point, but it fails miserably because we may have different ideas for what morals are, what they achieve, and what the goal of a moral framework is. Each of these points are ill-defined, and not having a defined start point or end goal can make it so one’s argument becomes too molded to a particular goal that shifts depending on the points being brought up against it.

In this case, the licensing discussion has really good basis for what it wants to do, it wants to improve the overall level of parenting, but because of its ill-defined starting point and ending goal (which I didn’t omit just to prove a point). It allows for way too much variance in one’s approach to the topic at hand. I just used this example as more of a stepping stone to a much larger issue at hand. We make too many assumptions with movements we believe in. There are topics many of us believe to be clear cut, you can express yourself however you want if it hurts nobody, separation of religion and government, discrimination is bad. But because of our lack of resistance to such topics we never have to fight back, or get to hear the complexities of such issues. It hurts a lot when a great movement is starting up, but it lacks either a clear goal or a clear definition, because it gets a ton of people together for a just clause, but it lacks the focus needed to get something done.


Whiteclay, Nebraska was a symbol of one of the most shameful and unfortunate byproducts of American exploitation. There are very few issues I am this passionate about, I feel cautious as I write this because I know the harm that exposing issues does, it leads to a large majority of people with shoddy solutions to a issue far more complex than the sum of its parts.

Whiteclay, Nebraska is just outside the Pine Ridge reservation where a lot of my family lives. Growing up with my grandpa, who worked hard to give my parents and uncles the life that they have, despite this. Native Americans from the Pine Ridge reservation have a disturbingly high rate of nearly every metric one could use to discuss problems. eight out of ten families suffer from alcoholism is just an example,( http://www.4aihf.org/id40.html) so one asks what can we do to solve this problem?

Beer Sales Prohibited in Whiteclay but the fight is far from over, with 97% of families below the poverty line and a plethora of other terrible statistics, what Pine Ridge needs is a complete overhaul, yet at the same time not too demanding interference from outside groups to lose their culture, the future needs to come from their youth. Hope is a powerful force, kids having just a glimmer of a chance is what is needed, and with that hope change can occur.  I think that this new youth needs to come from education and sports, I know I will give back to where my family came from, and that’s what I think is most important, I didn’t grow up there and I don’t even mean that you need to either to support something but I think that it’s important to have hope, and even though I’m not sure how to fix the Whiteclay problem, I know that there are other communities with similar issues, don’t forget to give back to who made you. If a ripple effect can occur with that idea then maybe a change can happen. Organizations like Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation and other support groups are trying, but it is gonna take a large overhaul to get to where we need to go,  but even the education  needs help, with over 70% dropout ratehttps://friendsofpineridgereservation.org/about-pine-ridge-reservation-and-foprr/statistics-about-pine-ridge-reservation/

Make sure to support your communities, hope is one of the most powerful forces out there, I hope some day to be able to throw a stone and make a ripple that may be able to help Pine Ridge and other communities in the area, but it’s gonna take awareness and education to get us there.

“Over 33% of the Reservation homes lack basic water and sewage systems as well as electricity.” http://www.4aihf.org/id40.html, this is another major problem, often we think of poverty as a lack of any sort of luxuries, but even basic needs like water have not been met for these Native Americans. I think that the surprising lack of support shows just how much of a blind eye is shown to Natives who live in America. It feels as though many of them are treated like they don’t live in America and despite these issues, the youth of Pine Ridge reservation are working to make the future even better than it is now. I believe as long as hope is kept up change can occur, but outside help for the Native American people is very important. It’s not just the poverty but the lack of a good infrastructure to promote growth, and this is because their community wants are very unique for each reservation.