Capitol Riots Spark Political Discussion at ON

Menaka Garapaty, Staff Writer

Less than a week into the new year, a riot at the United States Capitol served as yet another example of the bitter political tension and social hypocrisy prevalent in our country. The act of domestic terrorism on January 6th began at D.C.’s Freedom Plaza where President Trump and thousands of supporters gathered at the “Save America” rally to challenge the election result. 

In his speech, the President stated, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.” 

Following these words, a mob of supporters broke into the Capitol Building, forcing lawmakers to hunker in lockdown. As these events live-streamed on television, they also played on the classroom projectors of Olathe North for students to see. How has the violence at the capitol (and all that has occurred throughout President Trump’s term) affected young people’s political opinions, and expectations for future leaders?

Many current high school students became politically involved throughout Trump’s term, and events such as the DC riots have only magnified involvement. For most, this presidency unlike no other, was the first time young people began forming political views. Trump’s example of a presidency has now affected the expectations that young people have for future leaders/presidents. 

While Distinguished Scholars Political Science sophomore Brad Polston found his interest in politics long before 2016, he explains how this is the worst time for highschool students to be developing their own political opinions.

“The difficulty to dissect fact from fiction makes it a near impossible task for high school students to contemplate unfiltered ideas,” Polston explained. “The DC riots were a tragedy that was taken and magnified for political gain with no regard for ramification. High school students, unless smarter than the average bee, are likely just echoing everything they have heard before.”

According to Polston, young people have been thrown into a “steaming pile of hypocrisy and mistrust.” However, he believes the chaos at the capitol and these past few years have prepared them for leaders following.

“I believe future high school students should experience the calm after the storm. The crazy times stirred up interest and now they can truly understand politics in America,” Polston stated.

On the other hand, fellow DSPS sophomore Alex Teasley suspects another fate regarding the political involvement of young people. They believe that stability under a new administration may result in a lack of political attentiveness.

“I worry that, because we came of age under a Trump administration, political disengagement will be likely if we return to the norm,” Teasley explained. “Without the daily sensational breaking news, it may be easy to return to the idea that politics are boring.”

These four unusual years served as a time for many young people to develop their own expectations for future leaders in America. Witnessing the violence at the capitol on live television has impacted the lives of high school students across the country, as well as the students of Olathe North, regardless of initial political opinion or level of interest.