Throw out your excuses; get involved in democracy

Today is Nov. 2, 2010.

One hundred and twenty-one years ago on this day, North Dakota and South Dakota became states. Although debatable, this seems completely worth it because of Mount Rushmore.

Twenty-seven years ago on this day, Ronald Reagan signed a bill to create Martin Luther King Day. Thus, on the third Monday of January each year, we celebrate having no prejudice, and also having no school.

Twenty-two years ago on this day, a Mexican radio station reported that Mike Tyson was killed in a car accident. Era una mentira porque Mike Tyson es immortal.

This year on this day (right now), the midterm elections are coming to an end. This means an end to the constant political ads, an end to the exaggerated accusations and an end to the Democrats’ majority in the house (I refuse to knock on wood for this one).

With all of these ends in sight, we often forget about the new beginnings that follow. These are beginnings that we control, with that awesome right to vote that democracy gives us. Don’t take your vote for granted, USE IT.

For some college students, today is a significant day. They feel strongly about a certain candidate and strongly about the way our country moves forward. Or, they don’t know how strongly they feel, but would never miss a chance at voting. To all of these civic engagers, I salute you.

To others, it is a completely ordinary day that doesn’t include a trip to the polls. There are a few constantly recycled and reused excuses as to why people do not vote, but these excuses don’t make you any more American. Here they are:

1. You think that your vote doesn’t matter. Yes, statistics show that you have a higher chance of getting hit by lightning than you do having your vote change an outcome in a congressional election. Yet, if everyone felt this way, we would be screwed. The same democracy that gives us our freedoms depends on our participation. If nobody participates, who is being represented?

2. You don’t like any of the candidates. This may be the most valid reason out there. To many, politicians are impossible to relate to and seemingly identical to each other. For others, it is easy to be influenced by opposing political ads to the point of believing both sides. If Pat Quinn really is a dummy and Bill Brady really is a puppy killer … why would I vote for either? The answer is policy! Everyone has their own views on the issues, which is why it is misleading that elections are so candidate-centered. Vote for the candidate who will best represent your interests, and your vote will not be wasted.

3. You are completely uninterested in politics. To me, a televised debate between two candidates is more exciting than many professional sporting events (especially postseason major league baseball.) Not everyone feels this way. Probably very few people feel this way. Politics isn’t always deserving of peoples’ time and interests, but how it affects us is. Politics and war are the only types of competition that affect everyone, and can sometimes be one in the same. Thus, as an American, the choice of who runs our state is worth your attention, and I highly recommend reassessing your priorities.

The inherent goal of politics is to better ourselves. It is our responsibility as Americans to use our vote as a weapon in order to go the right direction. Today is significant. Today is Election Day, and it is sure to bring big changes in our country. This may be the most influential Nov. 2 in our history. Go exercise your privilege of voting, and do your part in deciding these changes. It feels way better to be the solution that the problem, and this is your chance.


Tim is a junior in LAS.