The Political Participation and the Choice to Recite the Pledge of Allegiance

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Family and school and peers, oh my! All of these, including others are agents of socialization. Each serve its own purpose to contribute to the influence of one’s value to politics, as well as to the learning process of how we communicate. Let’s go back, way back, to the earliest of times when one was just having politics introduced to them and deciding what it meant to them. Did any of those notions correspond with the agents of socialization? How does one view themselves in the lens of the government? Join me as I take a trip down memory lane while digging deeper to dissect the agents.

It was 2008, when times were much simpler. Learning how to trace cursive and memorize my times tables was the peak of my fourth-grade year. By this time, I have successfully memorized the pledge of allegiance. Understood the protocol of what to do and what not to do once I hear the chant. Remove all head gear, place your right hand over your heart, and to face the nearest flag when reciting it. What I also learned was that participating in this patriotic engagement was a choice. I learned about the First Amendment during the presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain. Myself along with my classmates were in homeroom tuning in to the morning announcements. Approximately two minutes in, we hear “Please stand for the pledge of allegiance.” The class rose to their feet except for one student. It was Calvin Stone, but to others, “Cool Calvin,” he was considered the most popular kid in our fourth-grade class. Once the class sat back to their seats, everyone gazed at him in complete silence. The silence broke when a high pitch voiced echoed in the class blurting out “Ooo Cool Calvin hates America.” Calvin proceeded to tell the class how that’s not true and how his mother explained to him that he has the right to freedom of speech. We looked at our teacher for approval and he shook his head in agreement. Our teacher got into more depth of the concept of the First Amendment and mentioned how our parents signed for or against their child to stand for the pledge of allegiance in the Student Code of Conduct. As stated, “Upon written request by his or her parent, the student must be excused from reciting the pledge, including standing and placing the right hand over his or her heart” (“The Code Book for Student Conduct,” page 41).

With family being one of the sources of socialization, it represents what kind of influence the family has on their child. Parents or guardians give their children their underlying arrangement of convictions, standards, and values. The framework depends on their ethnic network, societal position, and religion among different variables. My parents had the privilege of casting their votes when in time of the election process. When casting their ballot, they choose candidates who are part of the Democratic party. My parents explained to my siblings and I what it meant to be a Democrat and its values. They expressed to us that we will list ourselves as a Democrat and vote for those who political parties are listed as Democrat. For anyone who has personally witnessed this experience or anything similar, most will say they listened because it was their parents who told them to do so. As stated, “Family still remained a leading social agent of young adults, a primary source of support to whom they could turn when in need” (Arnon, Shamai, & Ilatov, 2008). Being young and ignorant of some aspects, parents usually step in and guide them in the right path or what they think is the best course of action. As I got older and took on classes that focused on the United States government and economics, I was able to personally learn for myself what the political parties stood for. Democrats has the mission on seeking opportunity that contributes the equality of individuals and groups. With the world consisting of such a diverse population, not only focusing on race, there should be an array of options that provides equal opportunity. When I got the opportunity to vote on my behalf, I chose to stay listed as a Democratic and select candidates who were also Democratic.

It wasn’t until elementary school going into middle school when I got my first insight on how the government works. The more I became involved in extracurricular activities, I realized how much of the school setting impacted my behavior. As stated, “In its role as an agent of political socialization, the school, implicitly or explicitly, may contribute to the child’s development of basic political orientations to the system” (Massialas, 1970). Not only does the school setting teaches us subjects, such as language arts, foreign language, mathematics, and many others, but it also socializes students into behavior that relates to how society function. For example, working in groups for projects, presentation, etc. teaches how to collectively work towards a mutual goal. School and classroom customs, drove by instructors who are fulfilling as good examples and pioneers, routinely strengthen what society anticipates from children. Teamwork consists of communication and compromise. From a political aspect, to make any form of change successfully happen, collaboration is an essential skill. For my middle school marching band to put on an excellent performance for a pep rally, we had to welcome other extra curriculum group to join us in our performance. This exemplified diverse units coming together. In comparison, people in office partner up with other individuals, groups, or corporation to raise awareness for topics that are expressed important to them. Former President Barack Obama established a partnership with individuals who are moneylenders who provides significant budgetary and home credit related assurances to our military branches.

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Along with families and the school setting, we also socialize with peers as well. Peer groups allows individuals to develop their own identity aside from their parents’ expectations and influence. Social groups allow individuals to learn new behavior and develop a new perspective, in which they can apply to themselves to help mold them into a character they prefer to confine in. As read, “While student peer groups may have a subculture of their own, they also teach the adult subculture of which they are a part and reinforce the norms and social patterns held by adult society” (Langton, 1967). If an individual was raised to understand that in order to sustain a manageable living, one must continuously work, he or she will carry out those traits until convinced of otherwise. One will uphold their families’ values and apply necessary contribution to do so. When put with peers who can relate to such will reinforce their family values. While including the asset of peer groups, the outcome is to hope for change. Associating yourself with a heterogenous population has its influence on the political aspect. This association contributes to the attitude towards the economy. As mentioned, “For we found that working class students in a heterogeneous class environment not only are more politicized, have more ‘democratic’ attitudes, give greater support to civil liberties, and have more positive orientations toward voting; they are also more economically conservative” (Langton, 1967).

Deciding where I reside on the political spectrum, I consider myself to be a liberal. I believe as we are humans, our human rights should be completely enforced and protected. Fair treatment and opportunity should be accessible by all groups regardless or economic class. I am in favor of limiting access to gunfire. The death rate caused by open firearm has increased drastically, especially for the African American community. Innocent lives have been taken numerously with little change to prevent repeated occurrence of this inhuman activities. People should have more control of their lives while choosing and behaving responsibly and ethically. Those who are classified to be part of the minority community needs tangible assistance. Providing them with resources to assist in the well-being of their lives is essential. I view myself as obedient and respectful when engaging with people, especially of those in authoritative figures. To act out and behave vulgar will not serve me any justice or positive recognition in the result.

Those who have authoritative figure positions should be reminded of its duty’s purpose and standards. Little to no action has been implemented by some authoritative figures while disaster has still taken place in the world. Some people who have such authoritative positions takes ill advantage of the power that comes with it. Take the Watergate scandal for example. It was an American political scandal that involved parties from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) accompanied by former president, Richard Nixon. The release of press shared misconduct that had been taken place by some of the members of Nixon’s administration. Although there are setbacks like such, there are officials who take pride in their positions and implement equitable initiatives to serve the community around them.

How we view politics and express our means of communication comes from an array of factors that contribute to it. Our viewpoints changes from the influence of how were raised to who we choose to associate ourselves with. The world is a diverse collection of individuals who also falls into intersectionality that creates some understanding of those who may differ from them. Understanding what politics is and how to understand takes on the need of communication and knowledge. Influences of our choices comes from school, peers, and parents.    

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