Get Up Off of That Thing, and Vote ‘Til You Feel Better
BY ELIZABETH BASTIAN, Opinions Editor
It is that time of the year again, ladies and gentlemen. No, I am not talking about how it’s time to start playing Christmas music (because it is NOT), time to see how fast you can get rid of your Halloween candy, or time to switch on cruise control until finals arrive next month. It is, as of the day of this printing, election time.
In our collective pre-collegiate days, this was that random Tuesday in November when we didn’t have school, and the only activities that mattered were sleeping in and eating breakfast at a Coney Island. But we are older now. We are ADULTS now. We have cooler, more important things to do.
I know that standing in line and filling out paperwork for the pure sake of pushing buttons behind a curtain may not sound like the most exciting option for what usually proves to be a mundane day of the week, but please, put a pause on the monotony of your everyday existence and take a stand for something by visiting the polls.
Still not quite convinced that voting is the thing for you? Let me hit you with some hard and fast statistics that are, in my opinion, rather cringe-worthy (all of these were obtained from www.census.gov). Of the 7,620,000 Michigan citizens old enough to vote as of November 2010 (the most recent election), only 3,268,217 turned out to cast their ballots. That’s 42.9%. Not even HALF of people 18 and over made an appearance at the polls.
Breaking it down by age group doesn’t lighten the prospects by any means. Only 56.6% of the Michigan population aged 18-24 are registered voters, and a mere 21.1% participated in last year’s elections. Nationwide, it was a cool 19.6%.
Do these statistics bother anyone else as much as they disturb me? We are the Millennials, Generation Y. We are college students. We are the future! Why are people our age so apathetic towards what is going on, towards who is running and governing our daily lives? Our age group holds the reins in our hands. We have the power and the knowledge to truly shake things up, to make a difference. Why are we not utilizing this?!
Placing all of that aside, think of all that has happened in order for us to even have the option to vote. The Revolutionary War and the resulting formation of our own country. The Civil War and the abolishing of slavery. The Suffrage movement and women earning the right to vote. The Civil Rights movement and the transformation of equality on paper to equality in practice. Even now, we have soldiers and diplomatic ambassadors out there trying to promote and sustain our American lifestyle. Are you going to throw all of that away because you feel like sleeping in for a couple of extra hours?
Some of you may say that you don’t feel qualified to vote – essentially, you don’t know anything about the candidates. I can understand this, and commend you on choosing not to participate and making an uninformed decision. However, this also tells me that you do not care enough to take half an hour of your time and read the readily-available candidate information on the internet. Because, literally, that’s all it takes. Seriously. Thirty minutes.
And for the laziest of you out there, I bet you ten dollars that you know whether you are a Democrat or a Republican. That alone narrows down your candidate choices considerably.
So please, try and get out to vote today. We live in a country founded on lofty principles of freedom and democracy. We shouldn’t have reached a point where P. Diddy is issuing death threats to those who don’t cast their ballots.
Personally, I will be waking up at 5 am to go and vote before school this morning. If you don’t do the same, expect to have some ‘tude coming your way.