As I approach the final month of my undergraduate career at MSU, like so many others, I am reminded of the things since my freshman year. The experiences I have gone through will no doubt impact the rest of my life — whether positive or negative.
I have witnessed the MSU men’s basketball team advance to two Final Four games, I have met the very best and very worst of people and I have made friends I will have forever. The one thing that sticks out more than any other is the change in my values and political beliefs throughout the past four years.
Coming into MSU, I was all about George W. Bush and everything Republican. To me, they could do no wrong, and all the Democrats were evil schemers trying to convert America into a socialist country. I still believe the Democrats are turning America to socialism, but I can see now that Republicans have equal motives not in America’s interest. Democrats and Republicans alike are putting their own self-interests above the interests of the country as a whole. The funny part about the last four years has been watching both parties play partisan games through the media. However, as in most cases, what was at one time funny quickly became annoying. The last decade has been filled with nothing but finger-pointing and name-calling. I only am glad I was able to realize it and not continue to follow the childish games of the Democrats and Republicans.
For a combined four semesters, I have written guest columns for The State News about political news, mainly stating an issue then telling why both parties are wrong and how we need to find somebody who is right. Well, I have figured out (and have known for a while) that people tend to write these beliefs off as not possible and at times radical. The general belief that no other party can arise in this country is precisely what keeps it from happening. The media shoves down our throats the idea that no one outside the Democrat-Republican spectrum can win, when in essence, these are only footnotes in actual political philosophy.
The media tells us that the “independents” are those who haven’t decided which party to support in the given election. That is not the case for most “independents,” including myself. We are just very displeased with the selection and would rather choose neither.
In the 2008 election, 29 percent of voters classified themselves as independents. This third of the country was displeased with the selection of candidates, not that they were undecided between the two chosen by the media. The president’s approval rating is below 50 percent and Congress has a rating below 20 percent. Both are the same as during the Bush years, telling us that a majority of the country is displeased with both parties.
So why is it that we continually elect them into office? Although there are many reasons why, one seems to establish the mindset for it. The media has established for so many citizens that the two-party system never will be changed. This apparently has been engrained into the minds of everyone. We need to rise above the rhetoric and the constant bickering among the children in Washington and instead take back our government.
At times I have wondered if, in fact, a direct democracy would be more efficient and representative of the people than the current system we have. A direct democracy would give every person one vote. Considering the politicians we chose to go represent us seem to represent their own interests instead, this system would be ideal. Many believe it is inefficient to have to individually vote on every issue; however, I believe people would be willing to vote every month in order to have their interests represented and not special interests. I, for one, would be more than willing to take an hour out of my life every so often to make decisions that matter to me instead of taking an hour out of every day to hear about how politicians have once again disappointed us.
In the end, this will be chuckled at and given no credence, but you know the next time you watch the news and hear how those politicians have once again put their interests ahead of American interests, you might think, “Geez, I could do a better job.”
Eric Thieleman is a State News guest columnist and political science and history senior. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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