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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Columns

Candidates make false promises to students


There is no collegiate demographic. Partly because college students are elusive — these students that find time to not only follow immediate political trends, but evaluate, scrutinize, and blog their conclusions in MLA formatted Tumblr posts — and partly because it doesn’t exist. Aside from implausibility of delegating an entire population to a handful of half-thoughts, there’s also the problem of negotiating the academic attention span. It isn’t much longer than your average Snickers bar. And if our president and the guy running against him have their way, it’ll probably stick around.

The evidence from this week’s debate was ample enough. There are plenty of catalysts, but the Achilles’ heel is our organization. Every non-hostile reference towards the students that fill these buildings was quickly followed with vague promises that can never be kept. The undocumented college athlete might accomplish his hopes if he has what the country needs. The ostracized 20-something couple could one day get married, if their state makes it around to swinging that way. When the clock strikes midnight noting your student loans are due, there’s a chance they might one day be forgiven.

They do it because they can get away with it. They get away with it because there aren’t any consequences. And there aren’t any consequences because, regardless of the party’s claims, the questions being asked are ultimately unanswerable. The candidate that answers these questions with a coherent response is either a liar or a prophet; neither is the man we ought to put into office. Since we let them get away with this business of formulating pretend questions, only to respond with answers that make just as little sense — ours is an audience that’s two steps behind.

Not that it has to stay that way. It’d just take some work. One of the first steps to cementing an accurate collegiate demographic would be acknowledging that it won’t ever be done. But the second would be to emphasize to the president, his opposition and any interested constituent that this is no longer an excuse.

The youth vote’s perspective may not be as obvious as the National Rifle Association, or the Green Party, or the National Audubon Society, but the president shouldn’t need help reaching the right conclusion. That’s why he’s the president. It’s the sort of thing that says a lot more about the man in office than the people who put him there.

Gov. Mitt Romney has all but written on his forehead what he thinks about environmentalism and women’s rights. In his steed, the incumbent has sewn grand notions on civil liberties, illegal alien and gun-laws. But that’s all they are now — notions. If the collegiate voter’s going to survive, or at least make their existence relevant, these are ideas they’ll have to start incorporating into their daily lives. We’ll have to start shouting. And while there are a number of ways to instigate this awareness, in lieu of a million megaphones, caring would be a good start.

Bryan Washington is a media production and English sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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