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Dreaming of Formative Political Talk

My main source of political perspective comes from older family members on Facebook and over the phone. I come from a very left-leaning family. They post about unemployment, lack of health care, and provide links to videos of Mitt Romney saying stupid things. At family gatherings, the spirit is quickly and unavoidably dampened by political talk. It is the same talk I have been hearing for years—we have no health care, we are in suffocating debt. Tension is high and feelings get hurt in political talk. This is my main experience of political talk, and consequently, I hate political talk. My family asks me why I am not more involved, why my schoolmates and I are not sleeping in Zuccotti Park. And so, like taking medicine, I try to read my family’s Facebook posts, I read the political section of NYTimes.com (at least, the 10 free monthly articles), I even marched with Occupy Wall Street three times last year.

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I am a young artist in New York City from a financially struggling family. I know I am a member of the 99 percent. I love that there are people protesting for our rights, but I just cannot honestly, confidently devote myself to these causes. When I went to Occupy Wall Street, I felt uncomfortable repeating the protestors’ words, because I did not understand the references being made nor did I recognize the names being yelled. Politics is an infinite, angry cloud that is dangerous to enter if you do not know the facts. It makes people upset and it ruins family dinners. As a result, I stay quiet and listen.

The one issue for which I can confidently opine is arts funding. However much I am affected by the multitude of topics being addressed in the election, arts funding is the one that pulls my vote. From my daily dose of The New York Times and the words of friends and family, I gather that Mitt Romney intends to devastatingly decrease funding to the integral National Endowment for the Arts, among other cultural agencies. I am registered to vote, and I intend to cast my ballot in opposition to such misguided tactics.

I  am excited that Juilliard is instigating political discussion and that students are being encouraged to research the presidential candidates. I hope to learn more about the relevant issues and invite anyone to challenge my thoughts. I yearn to engage in political talk that is not upsetting and rambling, but rather formative and informative!

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