The following interview is with PolicyMic pundit Sam Todd, highlighting how faith and tennis have shaped his politics, how he thinks millennials will create political change, and how partisanship has actully helped the U.S.
How has your faith influenced your politics?
As much as I may want to separate religion and politics, my faith has always shaped my beliefs which in turn have helped shape my political views. Having gone to catholic school from Kindergarten until 12th grade, I have acquired religious views that have influenced my political views. Usually my religious beliefs find their way into my political beliefs when it comes to social issues like contraception and gay marriage.
Being from California, gay marriage is and has been a huge issue because of Prop 8. I remember driving to school every day seeing protesters for both sides of the issue on the corners of major intersections. My favorite part of the whole process was witnessing long and controversial discussions and debates in school between students and teachers on the matter as often the liberal views of Californians contradicted with the religious views of the schools I went to. Many times I have questioned my faith’s stance on certain issues, but in particular gay marriage is one issue that I agree with the Catholic Church on.
What is the best way for young people to create political change?
I think the best way for young people to create political change is to get involved. There are way too many discouraging statistics about youth participation in politics and really the decisions made now have an immense effect on our future, so we should be involved. I think that with the rise of social media and movements like Occupy Wall Street, more and more of today’s youth are getting involved and I hope that trend continues. Being on a politically active college campus is fun and seeing your young peers involved with and enthusiastic about politics is really encouraging. I think a democracy where the youth is informed, involved, and enthusiastic is a strong democracy.
What do you think about partisanship in this country?
I think that partisanship in this country is a good thing. It allows for people to get involved with politics and share their views. We all don’t agree on every issue and we all can’t agree on every issue. People come from different backgrounds, have different interests, and believe in different things. Partisanship allows us to see different sides of issues and ultimately either reach a compromise or vote that one side is better for our country. But, compromise is not always the right answer and I think that partisanship helps us remember that. It keeps us all in check. If we are becoming too liberal, you will be sure to hear it from the right and if we are becoming too conservative, the left will be all over it. And it always allows for a good debate.
What has Tennis taught you about leadership?
The biggest thing that tennis has taught me is a sense of individuality. I think too often people in politics are influenced by others and worry too much about others. The individuality that I have learned from being on my own on the court and from making my own decisions with no coaching has definitely added to my conservative views.
Also, in junior and college tennis there are very minimal amounts of umpires at tournaments which means players call their own lines which, as you can assume, leads to a lot of cheating. This has sort of taught me not to trust other people and to really challenge things when you believe their wrong. Because of this, I am not afraid to speak my mind on any issue and when I think something is wrong or unfair, I will not hesitate to share what’s on my mind.