It disturbs me when I hear that students are considering not voting in the presidential election next year. I know with the electoral vote system we have in this country it seems like voting is a waste of time. We have seen times when the candidate that received the most popular votes of the people doesn’t win the electoral vote. Students may understand that age alone makes them eligible to vote, but may not know that voting is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.
Voting responsibly takes hard work. Maybe that’s why most of Americans either don’t vote or choose the “rock star” as Matthew Hunt described President Obama in his article on this page. Voting without doing the work is not voting responsibly. Don’t just take the easy road. Everyone wants to be on the winning team, but that team may be winning because they have enough money for the advertising. That money can also hide an agenda that you may not agree with. You must do diligent research and make up your mind about what is important to you and which candidate best fits with what you feel is important.
One of the reasons voting is hard work is trying to see the forest in all of the trees. Most candidates avoid real issues. The best way to run a campaign is to claim to be for old people and animals. Most candidates stay away from strong moral or political issues. If you search the internet and only look at the candidate’s websites you will find why each is strong on issues that may not concern you. After a while, all of the candidates start looking the same. When there are no real positions or issues the vote count becomes very close. Remember Florida during Bush’s second election?
To really find out where a candidate stands on an issue visit the website for sure, but don’t stop there. Read all about the candidate wherever you can. Ask questions on their website specific to your concerns. If possible, go where the candidate is making a public appearance and ask questions directly. Listen to the news and read articles in current magazines. Remember though, not all media is fair and unbiased.
Walter Cronkite is dead and so it seems to be any pundit who can deliver an idea of his own in a fair and balanced way. I know it can be painful to your ears, but watch that news program that you hate sometime. They will show different sides of the candidate that you may not know exist. If you disagree with a news program’s political position you may still find common ground with what the program exploits as a candidates problem.
Whatever you do, question everything. Don’t repeat everything you see on the internet or received in a social network post without checking it out first. Responsible voters find most of the radical-sounding things they receive on social networks are unfounded.
Whether you fall into the much-worn adult position of the Tea Party who pines for the way things used to be, the cry babies in the Occupy Wherever groups who aren’t happy with their government, corporations, capitalism, banking, police or what they’re getting from their government, or somewhere in between, educate yourself and vote responsibly.