Cult of Teenage Irrelavence

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My history teacher has a penchant to answers questions in a pedantic and digressive manner, which usually results in one or two topics of discussion dominating a ninety-minute period. Recently, a question about the Sherman Silver Act sparked a very tangential discussion about American foreign policy (not at all a bad thing). When my rather liberal teacher touched upon Iraq, the response was as uniform and universal as it was sciolistic. “We should never have gone in,” yelled one student. “Bush is a moron!” proclaimed another, with the satisfaction of David moments after he toppled Goliath. Most unfortunately of all, the history class was an AP one.
Professor Stephen Walt of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard recently noted in his blog of the preeminence of a “cult of irrelevance” among political scientists. Echoing his previous publications and the words of his colleague, Joseph Nye, Walt maintains the importance of political and social engagement by political scientists and argues that instead of delving into minute theoretical points, scholars should devote time to informing public policy. Granted, teenagers are physically, emotionally, and intellectually eons behind political scientists, but it seems to me that a greater efforts among teenagers at least to understand politics and policies would be well-advised.
A teenager stands on the precipice of obtaining the privileges of citizenship and entering into adulthood. With this of course comes the right to vote but also all forms of public and political participation on the local, state, and federal level. Few teenagers may become politicians, political science majors, or indeed, anything remotely related to the social sciences but they will undoubtedly have an effect on them as they grow older. High school presents itself as a unique opportunity to build a more educated citizenry, with an interest in both their own governance and maintaining the accountability of politicians. It was a failure on the part the American people to appropriately interpret policy statements, decisions, or effectiveness that enabled the Bush administration to maintain an eight year reign. It was this same body politic which had, according to some polls, supported using nuclear weapons in the first Gulf War and vehemently supported the second at the mere mention of 9/11. And it was this citizenry that elected Barack Obama to office almost solely because they believed the Bush administration had somehow began an economic crises in its final term, even though the seminal roots of economic catastrophe had been sown years earlier and few reputed economists suggested political action before the housing bubble burst. As teenagers, we hold a responsibility to understand the decisions made today that will influence the political landscape we will inherit in the very near future. Else, we will suffer the ultimate irony of precipitating the rise of another irresponsible administration by chanting that the last one “sucked”.





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