Being Politically Active: Midterm Elections and Beyond

With midterm elections on November 6th, many college students have opted for absentee ballots or early in-person voting. Those who live close enough to go to the polls on election day can vote then as well. As DePauw students, we’ve been bombarded with reminders about these elections: voting registration reminders in Hoover, absentee ballot sign-up in Roy, and flyers on every table in Julian before fall break, telling us which states allowed early in-person voting. All of these reminders are amazing—I’ve seen people who didn’t plan on voting or didn’t know how to vote be registered and take pride in voting (often for the first time)!

Like me, many current sophomores were unable to vote in the 2016 presidential election because we were not 18 at the time. I would be willing to bet, however, that a lot of us watched the news cycle leading up to the election and following the election results. We formed political opinions about the candidates for both parties, even though we could not have any “official” impact on the vote. We care about issues like immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, global warming, and so many others. So when we turn 18, are we voting? Yes, but at much lower rates than older generations.

But I’m not really here to explain why younger age groups vote less than older ones. It’s a trend that’s been going on for a while. I’m here to explain why being (and staying) politically active is so important for us.

So you voted in the midterm election. Or you didn’t. Whatever happened, you made your choice. But at this point, we shouldn’t just pack up and wait for 2020. Staying involved, staying informed, and staying active in the political sphere is important, no matter which candidates you support.

Watch your politicians.

You definitely don’t have to watch C-Span or completely immerse yourself with the workings of Capitol Hill. But if your representative is at an event or endorses another politician, at least read a recap of what they said. Try to be aware enough to know how they’re voting on issues that are important to you. Then, when they’re up for re-election, you’ll have more info than a quick Google search before you fill your ballot.

Discuss current events with your friends.

I’d say that most of us do this to some degree anyway. It’s kind of hard to not have these conversations. It’s also extremely eye-opening to hear things from someone of a different background, whether it be race, home state/country, economic status, religion, or even graduation year. Different people will have different opinions because of multiple aspects of their upbringing, and by acknowledging that, we can exchange ideas, debate, and become more informed. At the same time, too much debate can be bad, and if you can’t find any sort of common ground with someone, it’s okay to step back. It’s unrealistic to think that you’ll agree 100% or convert everyone to your political views.

Encourage others to be politically active.

Girls in our generation have voted more than the guys of our generation since at least 1996. And while it sucks to hear, men are probably less invested in specifically women’s issues, like abortion rights, than women. So if you know a guy that isn’t informed but wants to be, feel free to talk to him or direct him towards some info that can help. (That being said, it’s not on women to help men make informed decisions. But sometimes, the opinion of someone close to you can help you contextualize issues that don’t directly apply to you.)

When it’s time, VOTE.

It doesn’t matter if you identify as a Democrat or Republican or independent or anything else. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time voting or your fourth. When you vote, you’re taking part in the system that we have in place (no matter how flawed you believe it to be) and having your views represented in the government. When more people go to the polls, the election results are a more accurate representation of the political views in the country. Being politically active, especially voting during elections, is a way to make your voice heard.