Understanding politics

By Megan Hite and Pulse Staff, HiteM@Findlay.edu

Former President Donald J. Trump faces historic criminal indictments. Not only has a former president never been criminally indicted before, but there definitely hasn’t been one facing four separate legal cases.

But are college students, such as those at the University of Findlay paying attention? Several students spoke with Pulse staff about this historic time, with saying it’s out of their control, then they’re not interested.

“I would say students aren’t paying attention yet,” senior Mason Alberts said. “We haven’t seen the meat and bones of the trial. We haven’t been able to watch it and see what the answer’s going to be. Until we are given an answer, like he can still run or he can’t run anymore because of these charges, then I feel we’d pay attention. That can change the way college students plan to vote.”

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement found that the national youth (ages 18-29) turnout rate for the 2022 midterm elections was 23%. That’s lower than the 2018 election cycle. Ohio’s youth turnout rate was 21.6% in 2022. How the upcoming criminal trials affect the 2024 youth turnout remains to be seen.

“We have never seen this before and a lot of people don’t know what to do, a lot of people don’t know what to think about it,” sophomore Aidan Wright said.

Many UF students decided not to talk about the situation, since they either didn’t think their opinion mattered, it was too controversial or they did not fully understand the situation. Many people are not informed of the situation with our former President Donald Trump.

“In a community and area full of adults that can all vote, it’s important to have that political knowledge,” Wright said. “It’s important to get into that sort of discourse because you are going to contribute to our elections and our politics from now on, so I think it’s very important.”

Many students want to wait and see how the trials play out before placing their opinion on the indictments.

“As someone who’s not that big on politics, every time I do look at a piece of news, it feels like it’s the same thing on repeat,” sophomore Maggie English said.

UF professor Dr. Mark Polelle says college students need to be aware of what is happening around them in modern day politics.

“The stakes are so high and the changes we might see coming that will affect, especially people of your age will be immense,” Dr. Polelle said. “I think the next three to five years will be decisive.”

Many students aren’t informed on the indictments since they do not know how this can affect them or if it will affect them.

“I really don’t dive into things that I can’t immediately affect,” senior Reggie Micheaux said. “That is out of my power alone.”

For the group of UF students that do not know about Trump’s indictments or modern politics, Dr. Polelle gave some advice to help students.

“Whenever you are reading a headline or something on TikTok, YouTube, X or Facebook, the first question is ‘What are the two or more sides or what multiple viewpoints are there on the topic?’” Dr. Polelle said.  “Your conclusion regarding an issue will be more defensible if you understand the other side, in order to see the other side’s best case. It’s like being a lawyer. You have to understand your opponent’s best case in order to best represent your client.”

Freshman Grant Goodfellow thinks the indictments won’t have much effect on the 2024 presidential election.

“Whether you like him, don’t like him, Republican, Democrat, I don’t feel like the indictment is really going to do much,” Goodfellow said.

The younger generations understanding and engagement in politics goes a long way towards an educated electorate according to Pollele.

“We’re all in a bubble because Americans are some of the most isolated people in the world,” Dr. Pollele said. “We are only four percent of the world population, but we tend to think that most of the world agrees with us, but this is just not the case.”