Students have responsibility to protect democracy by voting

 

It’s that time of year again, when the donkeys and elephants are done hibernating and have joined together once again to co-host America’s favorite traveling circus – the presidential election.

[quote]Millions of Americans did not sacrifice their lives for the sake of public complacency. Participating in democracy is one of the ways we can continue to protect it.[/quote]

This year’s election marks the time when many Elon students will be able to vote for the first, and hopefully not the last, time.

It is very easy to feel disillusioned about democracy. Many say the Electoral College places more importance in where you live than what you believe. Some are not willing to wait hours to vote for whomever they believe is the lesser of the two nominated evils. And, of course, even if you clone yourself multiple times, you still have less influence than the folks who watch “16 and Pregnant.”

It is still our duty to vote. Millions of Americans did not sacrifice their lives for the sake of public complacency. Participating in democracy is one of the ways we can continue to protect it.

But even if you show up, your vote is just a mere roll of the dice if you lack any real knowledge on the issues. Too many people simply regurgitate what they’ve heard from their families, friends and television. An educated citizenry is a vital prerequisite for our survival as a free people, Thomas Jefferson once said.

And yet, today it is impossible to gain working knowledge on every issue. There are probably some judges who don’t know which judges to vote for. It is only your duty to make an effort and you can always skip what you don’t feel comfortable choosing. Minor parties have something to offer. The Republican Party was once a third party, while the Democratic Party, at one point, did not even exist.

Having said this, there should not be anyone surprised as to the origins of the Tea Party and Occupy movements. Both are disillusioned with the current practices of our media-driven two-party tennis match, and thus seek alternative outlets for expression. Without movements such as these, our political IQ is entirely contingent on sound bites taken out of context and the commentary of celebrities speaking on subjects they are usually unqualified to even spell.

Voter turnout in the 2008 presidential election was actually the highest since 1968. It has never been an issue of whether Americans will line up at the polls. The issue is whether our country will one day actually reflect the stagnant conversation it is currently producing.

When it comes to democracy, you get what you give. Unless our generation exerts its brainpower and does the necessary research, our republic will remain what many see it as today: a coin-flip between two rich men patronizing our uneducated citizenry. A no-show is a vote for the status quo.

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