COLUMN: Let’s put it to a vote

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By Aaron Fitzgerald

The recent situation involving the shutdown of our federal government was certainly a fiasco. Citizens around the U.S. balked at the idea that our very own government could simply close its doors.

The shutdown resulted from a longstanding debate between the Republican-led House and the Democrat-controlled Senate over an act passed in 2010, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Most people know it by a different name: Obamacare. Because of the division over the controversial act, the government was unable to come up with a budget that satisfied both the Democratic and Republican Parties. The House of Representatives was unwilling to pass any spending bill that would appropriate funding for the act, and the Senate was firmly against passing any bill that did not. Since no bill was passed that appropriated government funding past the date of Sept. 30, the government was forced to shut down almost all of its operations, leaving the rest of America confused and frustrated.

Then, after two and a half weeks of intense debate and exclusive meetings, the government came back online. In a few short weeks, they had come to a decision that they were unable to agree upon for three years

The government, in a way, reminds me of a lazy college student. They put off that one important assignment until the last second, only to then pull an all-nighter and miraculously turn in the project. It’s not a great way to solve problems, and frankly it’s pretty nerve-wracking to observe.

I don’t like the idea of having a lazy college student running my country. I doubt you do either. Actually, most people are fed up with the way the government is handling things. According to a poll by ABC News and the Washington Post, about 80 percent of Americans are dissatisfied, or even angry with the government. But just like any other problem, you can’t solve it by simply complaining and hoping that it will right itself. Luckily for us, we have ways to fix the problem. In case you didn’t know already, the United States is what is known as a democracy. We can tell that lazy college kid how we feel, whether he wants to hear it or not. Even if our opinions are mean or racist, we are entitled to have our fair say. Now this doesn’t mean that you need to go make a sign and start shouting your opinions to anyone who happens to be in earshot of you. There’s more to being politically active than that. Really, being politically active is as simple as just voting in an election.

Strangely, for all the complaining that Americans do about our government, only 60 percent of us actually vote. According to a study by the Institute for Democracy, the U.S. is ranked 120 out of 169 nations in the category of voter turnout, less than even the Dominican Republic. Why so little? Well, some Americans say it’s inconvenient. Others say they feel like their vote doesn’t matter. This is understandable, but if you don’t want to be involved in the government, then why complain about it? If we think that the government is doing things wrong, we should tell them. We have been given the opportunity and the tools that we need, and if all else fails, there’s still revolution!

Contact Aaron Fitzgerald, circulation manager, at afitzg10@jccc.edu.

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