The Daily Illini

Editorial: New voters should watch Iowa like hawks

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

The candidates are done with their speeches, the pollsters have presented their final results and the pundits have given their picks. The Iowa caucus has finally arrived.

After what’s been a political freight train, the entire country will focus on Iowa on Monday for the first official votes of the 2016 presidential election.

It’s in your best interest to turn your focus there too. November will be the first time that many current students can cast a ballot. Everyone 20 and under didn’t have a chance to vote for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama in 2012.

State elections matter, town elections matter and RSO elections — however long and drawn-out — matter. But there’s only one president, and we believe that passing up an opportunity to vote for that future president is foolish.

Young people are hard to predict in national elections. Candidates work the hardest to grab the attention of young people, because they’re the most inconsistent at the ballot box.

The Iowa caucus marks the beginning of the most significant political season since Barack Obama became the country’s first major-party minority candidate for president. Most current college students were in middle school when Obama was elected. Now, we have a chance to help choose his successor.

Whether you like Obama or detest him; whether you’re a Trump fan, a Sanders fan or a Clinton fan; whether you dream of a well-regulated America or a wide-open free market America, your vote is key.

The first step is registering. That’s, generally speaking, not hard. The hard part is paying attention, and that starts in earnest Monday.

You don’t have to be informed to care about American politics — the most patriotic thing that average Americans can do is vote. Don’t subscribe to apathy as a solution to what ails this nation.

This country was built on the shoulders of people of all ages, races, religions and creeds. It doesn’t stay stable when we shrug.

So even if it’s for 15 minutes while eating dinner or for three hours while working on homework, check in with Iowa. Check the TV, check Twitter or ask your politically astute friends.

Take it seriously, pay attention and look for what might influence your vote when you fill out a national ballot for the first time.

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