It’s Time to Ditch the Taboo Around Politics 

On Wednesday afternoon, January 6, supporters of former President Donald Trump violently breached the Capitol, threatening not only the lives of members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence, but also the framework of our democracy. 

I had already been listening to the news earlier that day, watching Steve Kornacki enthusiastically calculate the results of the Georgia runoff elections. It was after school when I was doing homework in my room, where my dad suddenly called me downstairs to watch the insurrection unfold.

“Look at this, they’re actually climbing up the sides of the Capitol building.” I remember him saying to me. A lot of unimaginable things had happened in the past year, but I never thought that would be one of them. 

But I wasn’t surprised.

My eyes were glued to the screen. As I watched hundreds of men with Trump flags and MAGA hats hoist each other up the balcony of the Capitol, my mind started to flood with questions. How did they get through security? Why is no one trying to stop them? Was this planned? Are the senators safe?

How has our country come to this?

It’s not too hard to conclude how things became so out of hand. Trump’s administration has only exacerbated this politically polarized era that harshly divides America’s citizens, often forcing politicians to choose their party over the country. The events of 2020 had finally pushed it to its breaking point. 

When the leading man of our country publicly questioned the integrity of our electoral system, encouraging his supporters to fight for an election he clearly lost, naturally, something like this would happen; it was only a matter of time. 

All that night I was up talking to friends, wondering what the next day of Google Meets would hold. Would teachers address it? I hoped that they would. It would feel wrong to casually pretend that white supremacists and neo-Nazis didn’t just walk onto the floor of the House Chamber holding the Confederate Flag. I needed clarity. As did my classmates, who were also just as confused and upset. I wanted to talk about it, I wanted to hear how our country could move forward from this. 

But out of all my classes, only one of my teachers was brave enough to hold a conversation with students about the events that took place. I was shocked. I often find teachers tip-toeing around any slightly controversial topics due to the current political climate, but I didn’t think this would or should be one. 

Their silence spoke louder than words. Not taking a stand on this matter almost felt like a side was indirectly chosen. Throughout the day, students got the sense that teachers were very focused on staying on topic and not straying away from the curriculum of their classes. 

I acknowledge that some arguments are best kept out of the classroom, however, political debates are the foundation of our country’s establishment. Yes, there’s a time and a place to talk about controversial matters, but this shouldn’t have been considered a controversial topic to begin with.  Whether the former President incited an insurrection or not is a debate that will be left for the Senate in his second impeachment trial, but no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, we should all agree that storming the Capital because one’s candidate fairly lost an election is wrong and in fact, the exact opposite of patriotic. 

Personally, I think it’s offensive to teachers to underestimate their ability to hold respectful and meaningful conversations between students in their classes. After all, it is their job to educate and converse with students, and the few conversations that did happen that day never got out of hand and were rather insightful in understanding what exactly occured. It was an emotional day for many students and these few teachers significantly helped to validate their feelings while providing an optimistic outlook. 

I also believe it’s important to recognize a teacher’s responsibility to teach morals and help students grow as humans and not strictly through academics. It’s just as critical to teach Chemistry in a Chemistry class as it is to help students distinguish between right and wrong, no matter the topic; students need to participate in discourse about current events. These sometimes tough conversations are a necessity for students to grasp a deeper understanding of the world, rather than to only be sheltered in the echo chamber of opinions and beliefs of their own households. Not introducing students to new ideas will only hurt them in the long run and contribute to a more partisan future that we are trying so hard to minimize now. Discussions like these should be foremost, as it is imperative to help teens prepare to go out into the real world and become model citizens. 

That is why it is time to ditch the taboo around politics. 

As President Joe Biden said in his inauguration speech, “Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.”

It is equally important to have bipartisanship as it is to have healthy debate and discourse. That is after all, how our democracy works best.