Much to the frustration of the elder generations, youths have abstained from voting in elections for many speculated reasons, whether it’s that they’re uneducated about the issues and the candidates, struggle understanding the voting process or simply possess political apathy. With the upcoming presidential election on the horizon, it is essential that young people vote in the upcoming election because their voices may never be more powerful than they are now.
This election is one of extremes. Ted Cruz, who won the Republican vote in the Iowa caucuses this week, is a strict constitutionalist and evangelical who heavily opposes gay marriage and any regulations of the Second Amendment. Donald Trump took second place in the caucuses running on an anti-immigration “say it like it is” platform. On the other side of the spectrum, the candidate gaining the most momentum in recent months has been Bernie Sanders, the self-proclaimed socialist who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. He calls for universal healthcare and free public universities and has long supported gay marriage. Critics, however, question how Sanders will pay for all of his initiatives. Hillary Clinton is the establishment candidate with moderate beliefs who promises to continue the Obama legacy. The moderate Republicans are not represented in this election, and Sanders’ policies are pulling the Democratic party further left.
There likely has never been a moment more polarized in American political history. This election cycle’s social issues, such as gay marriage, the massive concentration of wealth in this country at the top one percent, campaign financing, police brutality and racial inequality and immigration have all been major focal points of both Democratic and Republican primary debates. Foreign relations in the wake of the rise of ISIS has been a major focus of debates as well, but has largely been on equal footing in the debates where foreign relations used to dominate.
The importance of this election can be heard in the revolutionary rhetoric of candidates on both sides. Trump seeks to “make America great again,” while Cruz hopes to take the country back from Obama’s policies and Sanders hopes to convince the public of his democratic socialist political revolution. This year is an election not simply for the body that will fill the highest post in the nation, but for the very identity of the United States of America.
Young people often don’t vote for many previously discussed reasons, but we at The Campus Ledger editorial board urge young people of the college not only to vote in this coming election, but to take the time to learn about the candidates on the ballot and what each of them actually stands for. Political apathy does nothing to further your beliefs and shamefully shuns the democratic voice we have that young people in other countries are currently fighting for their lives to obtain. This is the year where the identity of our nation as a progressive state or a bastion of conservatism is in an epic struggle, and it is vitally important you lend your voice to the side you stand with. Make your mark on your country, however small that mark may be, and vote in this year’s election.
For information and instructions on how to register to vote, visit voteks.org.