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Opinion

Young voters need to step up to the plate for election

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February 7, 2008

To me, it’s no wonder why the percentage of first time and young voters, like myself, is so low. Throughout high school, I always tried to avoid the topic of politics whenever it came up. I never knew what party I belonged to, so I kept my mouth shut. When asked, I’d just say moderate, because I figured that right smack dab in the middle was a safe bet.

When it comes to politics, I’ve always been intimidated by those people who know exactly what party they belong to and will argue like crazy if you don’t agree with them. In a lot of ways, politics is one followed with the same loyalty and passion as religion. I was raised Roman Catholic and went to a private Catholic school from kindergarten to eighth grade and never felt the need to peddle my beliefs to people like an obnoxious salesman the way many people do with politics, so I guess that’s probably how I reached this disconnect with the political world.

A lot of older adults would say that the reason the percentage of young voters is so low is because young people are extremely self-involved, and to some extent, they’re right, as much as I hate to admit it. But I think there’s more to it than that. I think that many young people are just confused and undecided, like myself. What if your beliefs don’t fit Republican or Democratic? Of course there are many other political parties; the most recognized would be the Green party, the Independent party and the Socialist party. But if you vote for any of these novelty parties, it doesn’t really matter anyway, because they have realistically no chance of actually winning.

When looking at the platforms of both the Republican party and the Democratic party, I see values and issues represented on both sides that I agree with. So, where does that leave me? There is no moderate party candidate, and even if there was, that person would have no chance of winning the election. Why must we fit ourselves into one of two categories? 

Certainly, with the United States being as large and diverse as it is, hundreds of different ethnicities and about 313 practiced religions, we can’t slump everyone into two political parties. And what about those who support smaller parties, will their voices ever be heard over the deafening roar of the Republicans and the Democrats? Will they ever truly be represented alongside these two dominating parties? 

While looking at the facts provided supporting each candidate, I was overwhelmed by the extensive amount of information. I went on the website ontheissues.org and found an insane number of quotations on every issue by every candidate. No wonder so many new voters aren’t stepping up to the plate if they have to do extensive research to figure out which candidate that they should vote for, especially since the majority of these voters are college students and already have plenty of research to do for school.

At the end of the day, I know exactly why I never have, and most likely never will, enjoy politics: compromising values. For me, politics means picking and choosing which values are the most important and accepting some beliefs that I don’t support that come along with them. I wish there was an ideal candidate to fit all my beliefs, but since there isn’t, I’ll just have to continue researching the platforms of these candidates to find the best fit.   

As much as this column seems very cynical and describes the logic and understanding of the lack of young voters, I in no way support this behavior. I really do think one vote can make a difference, and if all of us young students vote this year, we will have the opportunity to have our voices heard not just as individuals, but as a demographic that has been dormant from the election ballots for far too long.

-Natalie is a freshman with sophomore standing with a Journalism major.  She enjoys running, reading, lacrosse, intramurals, shopping, and writing. She also DJs for WRFW on Tuesday nights from 6-8.

Natalie Conrad is a junior journalism and marketing communications major and French minor. She enjoys running,reading, writing, playing guitar, and traveling.