By James McCool
Before I begin, it must be recognized that the aforementioned, title, “The Dangers of Political Swagger” is named so intentionally. This is due to the fact that the political factions we subscribe to no longer exist as a lingering fact about our persons, but a defining characteristic that we carry with swagger, a synonym for arrogance.
I decided to write this because I am an 18-year-old student at Florida State University, and while it is a good idea for my age demographic to appear to be politically active, it could bring along ramifications that will permanently change the forum of all political transactions. I can recall hearing other kids at school saying so brazenly who their parents planned to vote for, “My mom is voting for Obama!”, “My dad is going for Trump!” And for a long while, that seemed conventional.
In the spirit of keeping up with my peers, I would ignite political discussions with my father as young as 10 years old. He would obviously tell me who he planned to vote for, and his ideology in general, but also detailed a time when the present discussion would be deemed taboo. My father explained to me, that when he was my age, you had no idea who your parents, neighbors, or friends voted for. It just was not the center piece of American actuality, at least as much.
Since time has passed, I have had the privilege of molding my own convictions and casting it around the political brand that I assigned to myself. Still, I never let go of what my father told me so many years ago in the middle of a marginally different time. Back then, it only meant so much, but the story possessed greater gravity in the eye of the 2020 election cycle. To my knowledge, the civic response to current events has changed as well as how we engage in political discourse.
To detail this, I believe it to be completely normal to be upset that your particular candidate is unsuccessful in an election, as long as it does not disturb your faith and or loyalty to the United States. After President Trump lost, we have seen Democrats scoff at the, “Stop the Steal” movement that is going on, in hopes to overturn the 2020 election results.
However, keep in mind that Democrats are not immune to these behaviors as they touted, “Not my president” on various merchandise for 4 years. What I see, is not just a change in the political conversation, but the dynamic relationship between politics and our individualities. My greatest fear is that our hyperattentive attitudes on the political continuum will sorrowfully fog the windshield of patriotism and result in a fatal crash.
Because we have recently made politics such a pivotal role in the lives of many people who cannot even vote yet, it has left the ones with little responsibility to conjure up radical conclusions about current affairs. This includes but is not limited to, the bombardment of fake news, cancel culture, and censorship. The party establishments love this because we pit against each other even more, and only dig our roots deeper into our convictions. Instead of making the right decisions for our country, we will do so for the party agenda, only as a result of this extremism.
In all, Generation Z’s political awareness is a thinly veiled portrayal of activism, that is more destructive to this country, than not. Of course, they mean well, but we need to be able to sit back and gather from historical precedent if we want to continue a prosperous future. And most importantly, reassess our relationship as constituents, to political parties.
While we can pick a side, we must also know that this is not the only entity we call to, because when the election is over, we are all on the same team. We are on the greatest team ever assembled which would make it even more a shame if it crumbles over petty differences.
While I am young, I acknowledge that I have a lot more things to see, and maybe my take on this will change. But I am old enough to know that I live in the greatest country on Earth, and the demonization of our fellow American, Democrat or Republican, carries much heavier consequences than any threat that exists abroad.
The notion of unity is very abstract, but there are steps each of us can take to ensure the integrity of our liberties. Next time you see someone who disagrees, remember to not make the existential mistake of assigning the characteristics of the ideology they endorse to who they are. We must rest our faith in a nation, not a faction. The solution to empowering political awareness cannot be solved through policy, but only decency.
James McCool is a student of Political Science at Florida State University. He has a passion for education, law, and patriotism above all.