Everybody Must Vote, Seriously

To the Editors:

It happened two years ago, during the presidential elections of 2000. I was talking to a girl about the nearing elections, and I causally inquired who she’d be voting for. “Nobody,” she replied, “I don’t even know who the candidates are.”
Needless to say, I was shocked. I asked her how she could not even know the candidates, and she responded by saying something about how she doesn’t watch the news and whatnot.
Two years ago, I was just about to turn 18, and had been anxiously waiting for my chance to cast a vote in what would be my first national election.
To see another person my age dismiss it so thoughtlessly was unsettling to say the least. How could someone care so little for the world around them? After the 2000 presidential elections (which I think everyone remembers for good or ill), statistics were released detailing the vote. It turns out that over half of the potential voters in this country did not vote! Less than one quarter of the people wanted George W. in power.
There is a serious problem in this country. It is a problem of ignorance and indifference. It is arises from acceptance of the status quo and disillusionment with a system that was designed to give every person a voice. The biggest threat to democracy is not Al-Qaeda, not soft money, not even John Ashcroft. It is our own apathy.
Most politicians love apathy. It keeps them in power, it keeps their jobs simple. When half of their constituents don’t vote, the amount of people they have to answer to is cut in half. When someone decides not to vote, they are in essence voting for the status quo. They are sending a loud signal saying that, “Everything’s great! Couldn’t be better! Don’t change a thing!”
So what if everything isn’t great? What if change is desired? That is where voting comes in. That is where participating in the democratic process comes in. That is where information comes in. Being an informed voter is one of the most important parts in being a citizen of this country. Knowledge is a powerful thing, even more so when combined with the ability to act.
Did you know that right now in Ohio, two men are vying for governor? Tim Hagan, the progressive liberal democrat, and Bob Taft, the republican incumbent and great grandson of President Taft both want to be Ohio’s next governor.
There is also a plethora of smaller elections for state congress and county positions up for grabs come Election Day, November 5th. I am writing this letter in hopes that many of you will participate in these local elections. It turns out that just by going to school here in Oberlin, we are able to vote in local elections. We just need to register to vote first. By voting here we are sending a message to our local politicians.
We can make a difference.
During the last elections, a progressive democratic candidate for state senate lost this district to the incumbent republican by 700 votes. If just one out of every three Oberlin students had voted for the democrat, there would have been a completely different result.
I encourage all of you to think about these upcoming elections. I encourage all of you to participate, and to help chose those who represent you.

–Casey Dreier
College Sophomore

September 27
October 4

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