Student voters don’t like showing up
In a democratic society, the people have only so many methods to affect their government. There is the violent method (we all know the odds of an armed insurrection against the U.S. military), joining the government as a politician (entering the sea of Republicans vs. Democrats), and there is voting. Students at large seem to choose none of the above.
The cynics ask, “Why vote?” The candidates rarely represent the millions voting for them; politics involves a two party system comparable to street gangs, and writing in an independent candidate is almost always in vain.
You shouldn’t vote, mainly because it will lull you into a false sense of accomplishment; the illusion that there are trustworthy, competent men and women wearing suits and ties, making sure everything is running smoothly because you pulled a lever on election day is ludicrous. Taken in this perspective, voting is meaningless.
The only true reason voting is meaningless is that not everyone votes. Corporations make sure to vote (and give unlimited campaign contributions); people in their 50s and up make sure to vote, and those who have a vested interest make sure to vote. Everyone else basically sits at home on voting day and then spends the days until the next election complaining about how politics are broken. By “everyone else”, I mean students.
Sure, plenty of students turned out for the 2008 presidential election. Plenty of those students only turned out for that, and probably straight ticket voted. Students don’t typically vote for their mayor, the judges in their district or county, the state governor, congressmen, or senators (students typically don’t know who any of these people are). Yet when it came to the president of the United States, students had no trouble rising up to cast a popular vote that didn’t matter since the presidential winner is decided by the electoral vote, cast by congressmen that students didn’t vote for. What a full circle of irony.
So far this covers generalized statements about students voting for federal and state government. What about on campus? The Student Government Association repeatedly attempts to rally students to vote during on campus elections, but its peak turnout last year was a pittance compared to the total amount of students on campus. Spring 2010 had 3,401 students vote for SGA president, with votes descending in number for the remaining seats. The subsequent runoff elections had under 2,000 students. And keep in mind this is only for SGA voting on campus. Do you think that many students turned out to vote for the Houston mayor?
Try as it might, the SGA cannot get the students to the booths. They remind students of their civic duty, try to get them into the habit of voting and dispel the mistaken notion that a student doesn’t have an effect. They let them know who is on the ballot and give students informed decisions. They basically do everything real politicians are supposed to do (but don’t). The SGA does all this, only to end up with a handful of votes worse in number than the proposed monetary flow of Reagan’s trickle-down economics.
Today, voting is a sick joke with no punch line. The people who vote are the only people who make any difference, and they generally enjoy the fact that no one else even wants to register. Why encourage other people to oppose you? It is really ironic that students, who are characterized as youthful and energetic, can have so much apathy to such a powerful ability. Don’t try to contemplate why students won’t vote; it will only lead to a headache. The only certainty is that it’s not the fear of jury duty holding would-be voters back it’s something else.
David Haydon is a political science junior and may be reached at [email protected].