For a lot of collegiates reading this, you will be voting for the first time this November for the presidential election. Unfortunately, Rihanna’s rumored performance with Chris Brown at the VMA’s—which didn’t happen, by the way—somehow managed to take precedence over the 3rd day of the Democratic National Convention, the night President Barack Obama was speaking, closing the DNC, appealing to his faithful followers and hoping to sway voters in median positions.
We’ve always been told about the importance of voting, having a voice within our democracy, etc. These sentiments were echoed relentlessly during the 2008 election. Record numbers of millennials helped put President Obama in office. But the energy behind BET and MTV’s campaigns vigorously repeating the word ‘Vote’ seems to have stalled indefinitely, if not regressed.
With the youth in desperate need to, once again, get “fired up!” about politics, here are a few reasons why your mind, mouth and vote still matter in America’s political system.
1. You’re alive. And the fact that you’re breathing on this earth should be reason enough to indulge in politics, even to the most basic extent. As basic and corny as this may sound, your vote really does matter. I’m sure you’re thinking about your far-too-cynical Political Science 101 professor who told you about the Electoral College and encouraged you to believe that you’re vote holds no weight. First, while this is absolutely untrue (your votes help determine the amount of votes a candidate gets from the Electoral College), let’s think smaller than the presidential election. Humor me. I’m sure some of you heard of the attempted recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The American people hold the power to take a corrupt official out of office. If this attempt is unsuccessful, as was the Wisconsin incident, the people still have power to scare an official into shape. We’ll see how the remainder of Gov. Walker’s term goes, and especially how his predecessor acts following the uprising of the people of Wisconsin.
2. Facebook and Twitter…and any other social media site that’s become an instant technological necessity in the last 20 minutes makes it startlingly easy to get involved in even the most important and groundbreaking political events of the time. Exhibit A: the uprisings of Arab and North African countries that began last spring and are still going on today. These domino effect revolutions began with posts and events on a site we’re all familiar with: Facebook. Even US Federal Agencies have Facebook and Twitter accounts where they open issues for comment, inform people where to go and what to do to critique governmental processes and policies, and let us know exactly what they’re doing to improve our society. Lost your rose colored glasses? Don’t worry. You can use your First Amendment rights to utilize these sites as ammunition to blast the feds without being completely ignorant about what is going on.
3. If not you, who? According to a US Census Bureau finding reported by the New York Times, only about 30% of the population has a bachelor’s degree. While this is a record number for the US, it still leaves those without college degrees in the majority. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not spending $120,000 over four years just to sit around my whole life and do nothing with what I received from my university. We are expected to be leaders in society, having been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend an institution of higher learning. Therefore, we should inevitably involve ourselves in a field that has the most real life impact on real life citizens…POLITICS! Be it through voting, watching the upcoming presidential debates (the first of which is October 3rd from 9-10:30 p.m.), coordinating a rally for a local issue or attending one you learned about on Facebook, there are so many things we collegiates can do to regain momentum for political change and freedom.