Home Politics Politics 101: A Guide to American Politics and the 2016 Election

Politics 101: A Guide to American Politics and the 2016 Election



No word evokes more confusion in the heart of a teenager than “politics”. The broad topic is perplexing to minds preoccupied with rapper feuds and twitter gossip. However, although the squabble between Republicans and Democrats may not be as entertaining as Meek vs. Drake, understanding politics is crucial to becoming an active American citizen.

We are living in an era of abundant ingenuity, increasing development, and the rapid growth of knowledge and technology. Meanwhile, amid all of the splendor of our rapidly improving world, refugees are flooding to Europe, terror is ravaging the Middle East, and a major Nuke Deal is being debated domestically. Issues like the Common Core Curriculum, Illegal Immigration, gun control, and abortion elicit heated debates between Republican and Democratic candidates and citizens alike. Which brings us to one of the basic elements of politics: Political Parties.  And there aren’t just two parties.

America’s largest political parties are the Republicans and Democrats, with a plethora of smaller “third parties” also involved in the mix. Though the lines dividing the two major political parties often blur, Republicans tend to associate themselves with the preservation of the Constitution, more traditional beliefs, and “small government.” They believe that the power should be in the hands of the citizens rather the government, that taxes should be small, and power should ultimately be in the hands of the people. Democrats, on the other hand, believe that the government should play a key role in improving the lives of the people. They are not opposed to high taxes, since they believe that the money they spend in the government will come back to them in the form of aid for citizens. They support amending the constitution and society itself. Republicans, represented by an Elephant, are considered to be “conservatives” and “to the right”, while Democrats, with an Donkey as their symbol, are called “liberals” and are “to the left.”

So now that we know what’s what, let’s take a look at who’s who. The 2016 election may be a little over a year away, but the campaigning began last summer. What makes this coming election so interesting is the polar difference in the situations of the Republican and Democratic parties. The Democrats have four candidates who are currently running, while the Republicans now have fifteen. That’s a lot of candidates, especially when compared to the Democrats. Republican candidates have participated in several debates already, held by Fox news and CNN. The Democrats have been a part of one debate as of now, held by CNN. The excitement has already been brewing in the political world, and from here on in it’s bound to get even juicer. If you know absolutely nothing else about the current build up for the 2016 election, you still probably know about the Republican and Democratic candidates now leading in the polls, simply because of their incredibly high profile nature.

Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, has pretty much taken all of America by storm the past few weeks. The real estate and business magnate has attracted the attention of the media and the country when he announced his candidacy this past June. He has tapped into much of America’s current anger at the way our government is being run, and is known for speaking his mind. The current Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, isn’t camera shy either. Former secretary of state and wife of former president Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton aspires to be the first female president of the United States. But, as we have seen, there are more than two candidates, all with their own philosophies and ideas for what to do during their presidency.

On the Republican side, just behind Trump, there’s Ben Carson, gifted neurosurgeon and acclaimed author. He may be relatively new to the political world, but he has unquestionably proved himself worthy to the approximate twenty-three percent of Republican voters. Over the aisle, behind Hillary Clinton, there’s Bernie Sanders. He’s known for his far­-leftist, socialist views, and has himself a rather large following among the Democrats.

Since there are so many candidates for this upcoming election, it’s pretty hard to keep track of them all. To the right, first you have your strong, successful business woman, Carley Fiorina. Next up there’s Marco Rubio, best known for embodying the American dream. Also in the race is Jeb Bush, governor of Florida. His father and brother are both prior U.S. presents. And those aren’t even half of the Republican candidates.

On the left, there’s Baltimore progressive mayor Martin O’Malley. He is accompanied by Larry Lessig, known for his plan to revamp the constitution.

So now that we know a little bit more about politics, what are we going to do with it? Well, we’ve barely scratched the surface, there is so much more to know. To go into the world with an understanding of what is happening around you makes you a smarter voter, a better citizen, and a more knowledgeable person. The inevitable fact is, whether we like it or not, we are the future of America. What is to come of our great, beautiful country is our hands. It is our responsibility to shape our world, and we can’t do that without understanding it first. Whether you end up a President of the United States, a senator, a governor, or just a voter, you have a say in what happens in our country. That is what is so wonderful about America, we all have the power to make it ours.