Vote or die trying

By Carlye Wisel

This American-ness is freaking me out. In a world where Jon Stewart is one of the most trustworthy news anchors, communication is shrunken to 140 characters of a Twitter and entertainment revolves around watching people just like us do things just like we do on a television set they probably also own, it blows my mind that people banded together for the greater electoral good and actually voted Tuesday.

It’s been more than 24 hours since we all picked ourselves up by our bootstraps (that’s Ugg bootstraps, if you’re reading this on campus) and voted. American citizens waited in line, in rain, in cars, in government buildings for minutes, hours or the entire day, all so that they can throw in their two cents regarding which man will lead them for the next four years.

Americans. Participating. Helping. Volunteering! The last I heard of a United States of people who cared was from a history professor discussing olden-time war efforts about having to give up nylons.

So isn’t it wonderful that now this team of TMZ-ers, a nation who buys yogurt in tubes and chicken in nugget form through a drive-up window, is stepping up and doing the right thing?

Well…yes and no. The fact that citizens are speaking their mind isn’t all smiles and warm apple pie fuzzies – it’s worrisome. And, in theory, incredibly un-American.

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Many of us woke up early yesterday, wasting sleep and personal time to voice an option, which on one hand, is commendable. Apathy is gone, and this emergence of pride and excitement from coast to coast is like a politically themed straight-to-video Disney movie. But, on the other, I can’t help but think that it’s not wholly admirable that the masses have emerged to contribute their choice. It’s a testament to how worse off we are.

This large voter turnout is, in some ways, an occurrence our nation shouldn’t be praised for. I don’t want my phones to get tapped and my tiny parents taken away in an unmarked van for questioning because of this, but as a whole, our human prototype is earnest and hardworking but undeniably fat and lazy.

We’re not the type to rally for something unless it directly benefits us.

And, with the economy in the toilet and this commander-in-chief selection so pivotal in similar respects, the underlying reason why people voted is because if things don’t change, if things stay the same or possibly get worse than they already are, we’ll all be unfathomably, incomprehensibly screwed.

And that fear – not a rekindled sense of citizenship – is what drove people to the polls.

On a personal level, I’m an active citizen.

And even beyond that, Election Day was exciting because I wanted a free cup of coffee, the trendiest accessory of the day (that oval sticker) and the ability to make an “Obama ’08!” blogpost, but deep down, I know that my overall patience regarding waiting in line to vote for the first time as a student who has health insurance and tuition taken care of, isn’t as solid as that of a struggling father who just lost his job, or an elderly woman who doesn’t know how she’ll make ends meet or an injured newlywed who has a baby on the way.

For these people and millions more, participation wasn’t fostered by a hope or ignited passion that somehow magically got us to vote. It was out of necessity.

And hopefully, by this time in 2012, there will be more trust in the incumbent, less reason to worry about the path our nation will take, and therefore, less voters.

Carlye is a senior in news-editorial journalism who has a lot of leftover Halloween candy to get rid of. Any takers?