Every year like clockwork, the week or so before Halloween on the Castleton campus buzzes with costume ideas, plans to go to Flubbs, and talk about whose off-campus house is going to have the best party. A similar gossiping-planning-partying cycle falls into place for the Superbowl, the rugby season, or just because it’s Friday.
While this predictable series of events is clearly something Castleton students get excited about, I’m slightly discouraged to see a very low level of excitement toward the upcoming election, at least visibly speaking.
The last few issues of The Spartan have featured articles with different Castleton students stating their opinion of the candidates, portraying a picture of a well-informed and involved campus.
But based on dialogue I’ve observed in and out of classrooms, the comprehension of what’s going on as well as the responsibility of the civic engagement that is the presidential election seems to be mediocre at best.
Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong.
U.S. Census figures indicated that only 64 percent of eligible voters voted in the 2004 election, up slightly from 60 percent in 2000. Call me crazy if you’d like, but that number seems shockingly low to me. Some might say that it’s more than half, which is a good thing, but I’m not quite as enthusiastic with those figures.
Also, college-student-aged voters also made up a low percentage of voters when broken down by demographic — that’s even less excusable.
If you haven’t given voting a second thought, please let me attempt to reason with you. If you are at least 18 and a citizen of the United States, I find very few excuses, if any, valid for choosing not to vote.
First of all, if you haven’t noticed, we college students get a pretty bad rap. We’re often lumped in as this conglomerate image of lazy, ungrateful, na’ve, unmotivated menaces who contribute little to the greater good aside from keeping the local liquor stores in business.
Maybe, for one reason or another, those stereotypes don’t bother you, but if and when they start interfering with your ability to get a job, an apartment, or to be treated respectably and maturely, it probably will bother you, as it should.
Don’t fall into a trap by telling yourself that you’re still young enough not to care about politics and that even if you did care, no one would listen to you. If you’re 18 and you walk over to the nearest voting center, your voice will be heard, no questions asked.
Bridging off that, if the “I’m young enough to not be informed” excuse has been working for you, consider the fact that these next 4 years (even if you’re a freshman) are going to be directly affected by whoever wins this next election.
Our future jobs, homes, businesses, families — WE are the ones who need to be making these decisions, because it’s our turn to step into the forefront. There’s not going to be an older generation in front of us waiting to take the brunt and correct the mistakes of those before us much longer.
And lastly, the most common excuse I’ve heard is “I’d vote, but I’m not informed about the issues.” Excuse me, what? That’s your excuse? If you’re not informed, here’s an idea – GET INFORMED!
If you haven’t noticed, this election is kind of, sort of a huge deal, and all it would take is a Google search with the candidates’ names to catch yourself up.
If you want all the issues in a hurry backed up by direct quotes from the candidates where they stand, I’m one step ahead of you: www.ontheissues.org lays it all out in black and white and takes you about as long as it would to go to Fireside and grab a bite.
So, put on your Halloween costumes and go have fun with your friends. Enjoy your last few years on the bridge to “the real world.” None of those things need to be compromised. But challenge yourself to have a clue and get as excited about the future as you are about the present.
You wouldn’t miss the social event that you’ve been looking forward to, so don’t miss your chance for the last time in 4 years to vote.
November 4, 2008.