Saturday, October 30, 2004

Vote or Die

I am all for increasing political particiaption. I may not be a citizen of this country, but I beleve that all citizens should exercise their right to vote. I am all for Choosing or Losing, Rocking the Vote and Voting or Dying, I su-pport the numerous attempts to increase political participation, especially among those in the 18-24 category. This only makes for better citizenship and a better nation. But my belief in the youth vote was recently tested, tested to the point that I begun to doubt the wisdom of getting out the youth vote.

During the last Presidential Debate, a friend and I went to our school's basketball arena to watch the debate. We happened to sit next to a group of young (newly registered) voters, who my friend happened to know. As the debate wore on, my friend would occasionally ask the individuals for their opinions onnthe salient issues discussed in the debate. To may horror and dismay, the individuals knew very little about the issues being discussed. They knew who they supported (Bush), but did not have a clue what issues were being raised in the debate. My friend and I were so dejected that we left to watch the debate elsewhere. But I regret doing so, I should have stayed and found out why they supported Bush. Was it coz of their parents? Was it coz it was cool to be a republican? Was Bush better looking?Why would they support a candidate (whether left or right) without knowing what the candidate stood for?

However, the whole issue raised a couple of question in my mind. Is it better to have more voters or to have more informed voters? Is it possible to transform an individual who pays little attention to news and politics, into a model voter? Are the attempts to increase the youth vote simply making voting a fad? Are the GOTV programs creating an informed electorate?

I do not know the answers to these questions, but I am worried. I am worried that voting is being made into a fad, instead of the serious issue it truly is, with grave consequences for the future of the nation and the world. I hope that those who go to vote, do so because they understand the issues and not just because P. Diddy, Eminem, 50 Cent, and Paris Hilton say it is cool to do so.


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