OPINION: Caucus for a change

OPINION: Caucus for a change

by Ethan Zierke, Staff Reporter

Growing up in Iowa, it’s hard not to feel a little bit used during the election season.

It is a time when important people and their campaigns are competing to determine the next leader of the United States.

They all come to Iowa to proclaim their love for our connected communities and our cornfields. National media sets up in our diners and our coffee shops, secret service shuts down our campus centers and then they leave.

All of this for two to three hours of sitting, standing, debating, counting and recounting.

However, these few hours allowed me some time to reflect on the caucuses as a process and as a part of my college education.

My friends and family will tell you that politics have never been of particularly strong interest to me. I have always hated how much political discourse divided people, and I never felt educated enough to offer a worthwhile counterargument to things that I didn’t agree with.

I hated how dominated everything was by money and debt.

I think that a bigger problem arises, however, when we categorize politics as something that is separate from our lives. It’s not just another subject in school, like English or science, that some students excel at and some don’t.

The reality is that politics has everything to do with how we live out the rest of our lives.

If we look at just a few of the hot button issues that are being debated this election, such as renewable energy, the disappearing middle class and the national debt, it is difficult to imagine how one could not have an opinion about these things. To say that we would not be affected by changes in these areas is not only wrong. It’s plainly irresponsible.

We are living in a time when our opinions and our knowledge about these things matter. We are also living in a time and place where we have access to the knowledge that we need.

A majority of us are in college because we weren’t satisfied with just a high school education.

There’s a significant part of us that knows that education leads to opportunity. I’m not talking about the cut-and-dried opportunity that has been branded by colleges across the country and bottle-fed to us by recruiters. I’m not talking about the opportunity that promises the next generation of students that their college degrees will get them a good job, a house in the suburbs and a healthy retirement.

In my eyes, education should represent more than a means to an end. The opportunity that college presents us is an opportunity to become a more informed individual and an opportunity to take ownership of the course of our futures as students, professionals and artists.

Our knowledge counts for something and the majors and minors no longer matter.

We all will get the same president, and democracy would have it that the next president is an accurate representation of our nation as a whole. In order for that to work, however, all of us have to participate and I believe that now more than I ever have before.

The 2016 Iowa caucuses have come to an end and for a lot of students that means no longer taking daily trips to the recycling bins to dispose of misdirected campaign advertisements. It means no more C-SPAN buses, no more blocked off campus centers and no more national media.

I agree that the caucuses made for a few annoying inconveniences over the past few months, but I can’t help but feel as though I have participated in something extremely valuable as a student and citizen of the United States. I have never considered myself to be particularly political before, but I would be lying if I said I still thought that of myself.