THE GREAT DEBATORS
If two men debate and no one watches, did they even really debate at all?
In a guest column by Associate Professor Danielle Leek published today on the front page of the Lanthorn, Leek wrote that a U.S. presidential debate should “give us a reference point to start conversations about politics, the candidates, policy and our society.”
But at Grand Valley State University – and college campuses nationwide – there’s one big problem: not everybody is willing to engage in those conversation.
According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement’s most recent numbers on youth voter turnout, 42 million people ages 18-29 are eligible to vote, making up 21 percent of the total eligble voting population in the U.S., while seniors – who tend to retain more extreme conservative policy views than younger voters – total at 39 million. In the 2008 election, 84% of those youth 18-29 who were registered to vote actually cast a ballot.
Statistics on Project Vote, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated that works to “works to empower, educate, and mobilize low-income, minority, youth, and other marginalized and under-represented voters” reports that as of November 2008, fewer than half (49 percent) of the 3.7 million 18-year-old citizens were registered to vote. That’s 22 points lower than the general population.
Though a product of an arguably broken voting system, the reality is that there is only one day to cast your ballot for president, and it only happens once every four years; and the only thing worse than no vote is an uninformed vote, so arm yourself with knowledge on the candidates, and the proposals also included on the ballot.
GVSU’s own President Thomas J. Haas took a commendable step earlier this week with a campuswide email addressing students, faculty and staff about their thoughtful participation in the Nov. 6 election.
“I encourage all members of the Grand Valley community to vote,” Haas wrote. “This most fundamental of our rights is, to me, a sacred undertaking. In too many places around the globe, citizens seeking to vote confront intimidation, danger or other obstacles crafted to limit participation. We should never take for granted the free and safe exercise of our right to vote.”
Danielle Leek made an argument that it wasn’t neccesarily apathy, but the lack of an appropriate forum in which students can discuss politics – and that’s true. Policy issues have become so polarized between parties, and so attached to social stigmas, that it can be hard for students to voice their opinion without fear of making an enemy of either side. In fact, in can be hard for students to surmize an opinion at all.
But here’s the thing: we, as students, have the power to create that forum. We have the power to call eachother to action, to hold eachother accountable – some people even say we might have the power to swing the vote.
So, when you think that your one vote doesn’t matter, think about the big picture; and as the election draws near and President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney take the stage for the final debate before the polls open, take the time to tune in – even if baseball seems more important at the time.
Pictures of the Year 2012-2013
8:00 am | MBA Information Meeting: AM session
10:00 am | SAP Farm Stand
5:30 pm | MBA Information Meeting: PM Session
11:00 am | GVSU Track & Field at NCAA Championships
No events for Fri