November 7, 2014
Are we doing our civic duty and voting? Nationally, the Pew Research Center, pending analysis by the National Census Bureau, reported that voters under the age of 30 comprised 13% of those who voted on Tuesday. Similarly, an informal poll of students in the Student Media office on Wednesday night revealed that only one third of the students present actually voted this week. This is certainly not a new story. The self-righteous have long bemoaned the chronically low voting numbers in US elections, particularly in midterm elections. While this phenomenon is disappointing, The Spectator cannot tackle American mid-term voter apathy, choosing instead to focus on the lackluster political climate on campus.
Although many of the elections across the country seem distant, and Washington D.C. itself is indeed a relatively remote concept, each race affects our lives. So, the questions we are asking are: where is the publicity around this election? Why are students not constantly bombarded by emails reminding them to vote? Or to care about politics off of the Hill? Yes, we have many pressing issues of our own—whether that is figuring out our futures or simply worrying about the mid-term exam next week—but that does not mean that the political world outside of Hamilton does not deserve our attention.
While we certainly applaud the HC Democrats and Republicans and the Government Department for hosting an election night event, we worry that this became a piece of political theatre rather than a pragmatic discussion of issues and policy. Instead of hosting a debate on the pros and cons of the past Supreme Court “Hobby Lobby” decision, these clubs could have used their platform to encourage frank discussions of current issues and electoral politics. By hosting an election night party, they are focusing on the election after students would have had the chance to vote. We need to encourage voting and actively challenge students electoral apathy.
The Spectator supports any and all efforts to encourage students to be more politically active. Even students that do not consider themselves to be “political” or to have an strong opinion about current issues can make a difference in elections. One does not have to be a government major to understand the issues on a ballot. Though many students will argue that they are not voting because their vote “does not matter” or that their Representative is running unopposed, there is always something new that matters on the ballot. To give just a few examples, voters in various states voted on legalizing marijuana, allowing bear baiting and stricter gun control laws this past Tuesday. These remain significant issues not just in the states in which they were passed but in the nation as a whole and therefore deserve to be given attention by the student body.
The simple fact is: politics matter. Whether you are a majoring in biochemistry, creative writing or world politics, elected officials will have a direct effect on your life. In that vein, voting matters. We believe that as a school we need to talk more about electoral politics and government. Let’s encourage more dialogue before the election and challenge students to vote.