The Cross Reference: voting in 2012

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We have less than 365 days. The next presidential election has been heralded as the most important election in American history and will be the election felt around the world. Put aside all of your feelings about the way things are and how you think things aught to be for the length of this column. You have only three choices. Either you will go to the voting booth informed, ignorant or stay home. It’s up to you.

I’ve been asked to help get out the “student vote” and work to get more students registered. I’ve been thinking about that a great deal lately and I hesitate to encourage some students to vote. Stay with me. I’ve been doing a little research about the youth and students of America in an attempt to see what makes them tic.

I find myself to some degree agreeing with Christian Smith, one of the authors of Lost in Transition: The Dark side of Emerging Adulthood. He said in his review of the book titled A Generation Detached, “Frankly, I don’t want the youth to vote. They don’t own property, they don’t pay taxes, they don’t have kids to send to school. They have no financial stake and little moral stake in society and, until they do, I’d prefer they stay the heck away from the polls.”

One of my personal convictions is, if you have served this country in the military you have earned the privilege to vote. Smith goes on to say that sociologist report that what we used to call adolescence has extended into 20 years or more. Young people are not committing to anything. The statistics place the median age for marriage for men at 28 and women at 26. It would appear that the youth of today are more interested in themselves, their needs and delaying adulthood. Students seem to lack a sense of community and good citizenship.

These students are not unintelligent. They just don’t ask questions about morality, or what is important to live a good life. When it comes to politics they seem to have a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. They don’t want to admit that they have not been educated properly about their government and have little clue how it works. In turn, they don’t talk to friends about political topics.

All of this lack of information leads to believing anything. Uninformed people usually vote for the most popular candidate. After all, everyone wants to be on the winning side, right? Recent history has proven again that the popular vote may not win the white house and the most popular candidate may not be the best for America.

You have less than one year to get ready if you plan to vote. You have been trained to listen to well-informed people. Most students have learned to do research. We have all the tools and professors on campus that we need to educate ourselves. Voters have to ask themselves, what are my convictions? What is important now and what will be important in my future?

The first step in learning is admitting you don’t know something. Educate yourself before voting or just stay home.

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