By Emma Ammirati
I love and embrace democracy as if it were a jar full of gin and juice. Voting is a great way to take an active role in our democratic society. This is a privilege that few have around the world. Would more people care if voting was illegal and there was a dictator of the United States?
Last week I became increasingly disappointed when many students did not vote in the election. Some said, “We’re only here for four years. Why does it matter?” It matters because Beloit has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation and 33 percent of children are living below the poverty line.
The college employs members of the community to work for Physical Plant or housekeeping, but we do not do enough to show our appreciation by investing ourselves and giving back to the community.
Many students say that Beloit is not their home; this is just where they are going to school. Most of the students I know who say this have never been involved with Beloit outside the college. I challenge everyone who feels this way to volunteer with an organization in the community and see if they still feel this way.
During the week I work with children who are directly affected by Wisconsin state government decisions, especially those that involve the school board. By voting, I supported members of the community who are dedicated to improving the education these children receive as well as their quality of life.
We cannot stay here for four years without contributing to this community. This is your chance to use your major and apply it to the real world. Our inaction solidifies the bubble of liberal, white wealth we have created for ourselves.
I have trouble understanding the argument that a student should not vote because he or she is not interested in politics. An uneducated voter is certainly an unfortunate voter, but it is up to you to take initiative and research issues. Politics are not supposed to keep us entertained, nor are they supposed to take an approach that matches up with our interests. I think that there are enough horrible things going on in the world that “boring” is not quite the word to describe our current state of affairs. If you are an uninterested voter, you should feel uncomfortable with your lack of priorities. It is shameful. I doubt those who are uninterested in voting spend the time understanding what it is, exactly, that they find so boring. Many people also complain about the people shouting at them to ‘get out and vote’. Voting should not have a negative connotation, is there really a way to canvas without being confrontational? Without canvassing, fewer people would be encouraged to vote, content to leave things as they are. It is important to understand the price of apathy.
If you honestly vote in every single local and state election in your home state, then I respect that. But if you have not voted yet this year, or since the 2008 elections, and say you are not voting because you “don’t know the issues,” then please, right now, go read a newspaper. Find out what is going on and see how it is connected to your vote.
I was unsure whether I wanted to vote myself as a registered voter in California; but after researching the issues, and joining thousands in the protests at the capital, I realized it was my obligation to step up and vote for what I believe in. As much as I love my hometown, I feel a deeper connection with the community I live in now. Political apathy is what got Scott Walker elected and created the political disaster we are in today; before the next election take some time to care about your community.