The importance of being an earnest voter    

By on November 13, 2012
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Is it over yet? Is it safe to emerge from our holes that we have burrowed into in order to escape the relentless barrage of political campaigning and finger pointing? The important thing however, is that you came out of your hole long enough to vote. It is of no consequence now who you voted for, the important thing to remember is that you should always vote. If you don’t vote, you have essentially agreed to keep your bickering and belly aching to yourself for the next four years because you didn’t do your part. 

A lot of people, younger people, more often than not don’t find the joy nor the importance in voting, they merely shake it off as “something I don’t really care to do.” Oh is that right? Well I guess you are content with not griping about the current state of affairs until the next election, or whenever you feel so inclined to start participating in our democracy. 

President Barack Obama delivers a statement about the actions necessary to keep the economy growing and to reduce the deficit. MCT Campus

“I think it is important to vote so citizens can make use of the democracy they have been given. It allows people to have a chance to decide who will be representing them as opposed to just being presented with one,” Shamika Tyson, an International Studies major at UAB explained to me as we sat and watched the outcome unfold last week. 

With all the vitriolic rhetoric coming from both sides, beating our ears and minds into a dumb, dull pulp, it’s hard not to wonder how this campaign will be remembered–how will the history books write it up? Will it go down in history as one of the most dishonest, rhetorically flip-floppy, all around dirtiest campaigns in our nation’s brief history–perhaps. It’s too soon to tell. We need a second to twist our heads back around.

Whether or not your guy won or lost, we can all agree that deep down we are just glad it’s over–hell, not even that deep down really…We can actually all be Americans again, not just blue people and red people, calling each other mean names and lashing out at the other color for reasons we aren’t necessarily sure about. We do it because THEY aren’t US. But now that the dust has settled, people are beginning to realize that we are still in this together. I even saw a Romney supporter (and I am assuming this because of his Romney T-shirt) hand out some change to a vagrant the other day–brought a tear to my jaded eye. 

“Because of voting, I’ve noticed that people feel more involved with the country that they love and it promotes a sense of patriotism and togetherness.” Tyson went on say as images of Obama flashed on the screen, victory bells ringing, and confetti drowning the tearfully overjoyed crowd.

Perhaps something that we can see through the dust and the confetti of the last election thus far is the shifting demographics in this country. The youth played a key role in this election, more so than an ever before it seems–perhaps due in part to social media, which, to an extent demands its users to participate in the political discourse.  

“I think Facebook plays a huge role in political campaigns now. I mean people really get into it on these sites. I’ve already told myself I am not getting on Facebook for at least a couple days, maybe even a couple news cycles just to be on the safe side,” Ryan Jefferson, a Birmingham resident told me jokingly. “I think the young people in this country have a new outlet to voice their opinions on politics and it forces a discussion to be had. And I think that is something huge that will continue to influence political campaigns for years to come. It’s only just now beginning,” Jefferson went on to say. 

So whether or not your politics consist of Facebook updates, or actual voting or picketing abortion clinics or running for office, rest assured, students like you and I are neck deep in these campaigns and are just now beginning to see the big shift towards the youth vote–the game is changing. But one thing remains true, now more than ever. Vote. 

Cody Owens
Staff Writer
cjowens@uab.edu

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