Politics

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While I was growing up, I frequently saw my mother and grandfather getting into very heated arguments with each other about politics. My mother has always been a Democrat and my grandpa is a Republican and an avid fan of our current president George W. Bush. At any family gathering or meeting between the two of them, the discussion would always turn to politics and would get unfriendly rather quickly. Ever since I was old enough to understand what they were saying I became fascinated with these interactions. While everyone else would vacate the area I would I always stay and listen to them; it was for me the most enjoyable part of our family visits, or at least the most interesting part. I envisioned myself bridging the gap between my mother and her father and joining them in a more civil discussion.
When I was 11 I finally got my chance to participate. My mom and grandpa were discussing the recent 2000 election and their differing viewpoints regarding who should have become this nation’s president, when my mom turned to me and asked my opinion. I was stunned, because I had never been invited to take part in an adult discussion. A wave of pride came over me because I felt like I was being treated as an adult, but just as the wave reached its peak I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about politics. For as long I could remember I had listened to my mother and grandfather talk about politics, yet I couldn’t think of anything intelligent or insightful to say. I spluttered some incoherent gibberish that seemed to please my elders enough to totally disregard it. They carried on with the conversation without even another glance in my direction.
At the time I felt crushed and worthless—all I wanted was to be an intellectual equal and stand beside my adult relatives in heated debate. So I decided to become more educated by burying myself in every book on politics I could find, listening to the political pundits in the car with my mom and grandpa, and even watching as much C-SPAN as I could bear. Most importantly, I paid attention and truly listened to what people had to say. It would take years to gain some perspective but I slowly edged my way into my relatives’ political conversations. Eventually, my grandfather and my mother began coming to me. At first they would try to persuade me to agree with their point of view, but by this time I was informed enough to have my own opinions. Even though I am more liberal-minded than my grandfather, I can still find common ground between us. The conversations I had with my elders became friendlier as I strove not to focus on our differences, but the similarities and ideals we all shared. This sparked my love for politics, but more importantly, it has taught me how to listen to and communicate with others.

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