Voting is the easiest task you’ll complete all year
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 13:10
Throwing together a 500-word paper is easy. Completing a 100-point midterm? Done. But when it comes to casting a ballot, people are easily apathetic, don’t get all the details or understand both sides and still refuse to take part.
As Americans come together and split their votes down presidential, congressional, state and local lines, voting remains a necessity, not an option.
To be fair, Colorado has one of the highest voter turnout rates in the nation; our state is ranked fourth nationally with more than 70 percent of eligible voters casting ballots in the 2008 election. (Less than half of eligible voters in Hawaii, ranked last, bothered to cast a ballot.)
But paying attention to news and understanding campaign stances is vital for casting an informed ballot. Yet according to Pew, only 18 percent of those under 30 say that they are tracking campaign news very closely. That’s nearly half the percentage from just four years ago.
Despite less enthusiasm than previous election cycles, there is evidence that younger Americans are becoming more interested in issues like the economy and having jobs after college.
Today’s “Millennials”, those people ages 18-29, want to see what Washington can do to tackle the nation’s growing debt and how elected leaders can transfer economic responsibility from the government back to the individual – or at least make them comparable.
And as voting and taking part in the democratic process becomes more socially expected, turnout to advance such issues will also increase.
Younger Americans don’t want politicians who blame each other, but they want leaders who show how they can work with others in presenting and implementing a solution.
Freedom and rule of law, essential elements for elections, distinguish America from dictatorial nations – whether dominated by a few tyrants or a mob of overly passionate citizens.
Those who pay attention to foreign disputes and campaigns understand the importance of free and fair elections. When thousands have to fear for their lives when casting a ballot in the Middle East or wonder how far they can go in speaking out against their government, freedom and rule of law have been replaced with totalitarian control and intolerance.
As a constitutional republic, voting plays an important role in the function of our society and government. It allows citizens to speak up for candidates that they believe in and speak out against policies that they dislike.
But the right to vote does not come without certain consequences.
Whether electing Francois Hollande in France, who stands against measures to tackle Europe’s debt woes and who is already advancing policies like banning homework, or reelecting Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, a controversial socialist and sworn enemy of the U.S., a candidate and his or her policies are only as sound as the votes that are cast to elect them.
Citizens who rely primarily on emotions as they check a box on a piece of paper can only expect leaders who utilize such emotions – those who vote out of fear can expect leaders who will govern by using fear. Those who vote as if their voice doesn’t matter will be treated as if they are powerless.
Whether considering the state of the economy, civil liberties, foreign wars, drug policies or leadership experience, voting for the next president of the United States – or for state and local representatives and ballot initiatives – should not be taken as lightly as a single collegiate assignment.
The next four or more years will be governed by those appointed Nov. 6. And all you have to do is vote.