Senior Reflection: Why I write about politics


Image by Julia Lvovsky

My fellow editor-in-chief Julia Lvovsky thoughtfully designed a collage of many of the stories I’ve written in the past three years.

If you’re familiar with any of the articles I have written over my three years at Common Sense, they have a common theme. Politics. I write about politics partly for personal reasons, and partly for broad reasons. I’m passionate about these issues, and writing is the best way for me to express my thoughts about important topics.

More importantly, I have maintained the belief that in a news environment where fewer people, especially students at our school, consume traditional media they are more inclined to read a story about a substantive political policy issue when it was written by a peer, in a school outlet.

I write about politics because we as a generation need to care deeply about politics. Perhaps there was an era where one could tune out and trust that there were rational actors in the system and that more or less, everything would be fine. The event that disrupted that naive notion was the election of Donald Trump in 2016. While as an 11-year-old kid I was disturbed by everything about him and what he represented, he was a joke. There was no way he would win, so I did not see the urgency.

But then he won, albeit by losing the popular vote. My basic idea that most people would not support such a racist, sexist, anti-immigrant and wholly unqualified candidate was shattered. We live in a nation of incredibly close elections. One party is on the side of democracy, and one is not. When there is that existential of threat to the American political system, nobody can afford to sit on the sidelines and malign how both parties are bad. While I certainly do not agree with or support the Democratic party on every issue, they are the force that wants as many people as possible to vote and does not attempt to overturn free and fair elections. But I digress.

There are plenty of people who care about politics and are vociferously opposed to the popular policy views most people, especially most young people hold.

The people who want to strip money away from healthcare and education to fund another tax cut for the wealthiest Americans.

The people who wake up every day wanting to take away a woman’s right to choose.

The people who fight against efforts to stem climate change to protect corporate interests.

Those who want to limit the rights of workers, no matter the industry, to join a union and collectively bargain for better treatment.

The corporations spend exorbitant amounts of money to buy the minds and influence of our representatives.

The people who want to impose their judgemental views of morality on the rest of us, telling Americans who they can marry, and who has the right to raise children.

The people who want to ban books and whitewash history because they are uncomfortable teaching the truth.

The people who want to suppress the votes of poor people, racial minorities, and young people, simply because they feel they can.

These people care about politics. They vote, they organize, they donate, and they volunteer. If people who are opposed to these vastly unpopular ideals stand by and rely on someone else to care, or do the work, we are complicit. We seniors are turning or have already turned 18. As a bare minimum, we should aspire never to miss an election. Never miss a local, state or federal election. Never miss a primary election, especially in Maryland where those are often more important than the general election. Never miss a judicial election or a vote on a county ordinance or for dog catcher. We can post all the infographics we want, but voting is the best and always will be the best way to make a change.

I write about politics because there is a problem in media that flows downward. The most recent Congress from January 2021 to January 2023 was one of the most productive two-year sessions in American history, accomplished with the smallest of majorities, thanks to three incredibly gifted politicians: President and former Senator Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Despite the flurry of legislation that emerged, the notion was still held that Congress is stuck in gridlock and that Biden had not accomplished much.

Hopefully, I covered the major pieces of legislation that emerged from this Congress in a way that cut through tired media tropes and left you with a genuine understanding of the content of these laws: how much was being spent, and on what.

There is such a typical investment in clickbait tactics and covering politics like a sport, with the winners and losers being warring factions in a game. CNN performed a great example of this, framing a climate change relief bill being voted down as a loss for environmental groups, instead of humanity writ large. See, it’s much easier to cover the world when you split it into two equal sides constantly battling each other.

That way, the journalist can position themselves in the neutral middle, where they feel the most comfortable. The problem is, there are not two sides to every story. Framing news in this way is fundamentally deceptive. There is a famous quote that says when told it is raining, the job of a journalist is not to report that quote, but to look out the window.

The stenography journalism, covering a politician’s claims with little pushback or fact-checking does no favors to readers. When lies and the truth are simply presented as two sides of an argument, there is irreparable damage done to the shared reality we are supposed to agree on as a people.

I write about politics because America is in a perilous moment. When one party is anti-democracy, the most important election of our lives is always the next one. I write about politics because I cannot imagine anything more important.

Common Sense has been a massive part of my life for three years. It has helped me grow as a writer and person. I will be forever grateful to everyone who I’ve been able to work with, and especially our advisor Evva Starr, for her consistent support and guidance throughout this amazing time of my life.