By Samantha Rosengard
“Decisions are made by those who show up.” This was said in an episode of “The West Wing” in an effort to inspire college students to go out and vote, and the sentiment rings true in real life as well. College-aged voters have the ability to turn an election, to make or break a candidate. But this can only be done if they actually show up to vote, during both the primaries going on now and on Election Day in November.
Many of the issues being discussed this election cycle apply directly to our generation. College tuition and student loan debt have been central to the campaign platforms of more than one candidate. The Black Lives Matter movement has had major social impacts that have carried over into the political sphere.
Politics does not often appeal to college students, but there are some issues that apply directly to them. Furthermore, even if an issue does not have an immediate impact, it will in the future. Students who want to grow up in a world where they can find jobs after graduation, raise children safely, and be protected in their old age need to start caring about politics now.
It must be mentioned that the next president will very likely be selecting a few new Supreme Court Justices, and thus have a lasting impact on the political future of this country. The world will not change simply because we talk about how it needs to change. Action must be taken as well.
One obvious impact of the youth vote can be seen this year in the Bernie Sanders campaign. College students have been flocking to Senator Sanders in droves, taken in by his anti-establishment politics and his down-to-earth personality.
In the primaries that have taken place so far, he has been winning the youth vote by upwards of 70 percent each time. Yet youth voter turnout has been worryingly low. The numbers show that if more young voters turn out to vote, they could have an even more extreme impact on the outcome of the election. Of course, students should make sure to educate themselves about the candidates and make an informed decision about who to support.
There are various reasons for low voter turnout among college students, but they should not act as deterrents. Many students move around a lot during college and are not in their home state during the election. Yet applying for an absentee ballot it often as easy as filling out a form and mailing it, and some states even allow you to apply for one online.
In addition, college students are young and simply not used to voting. In this they need to be proactive. This election cycle has shown that college students are interested in the political issues being discussed by at least some of the candidates. They just need to harness that interest and make sure it propels them towards the voting booth.
College students are not unmotivated or apathetic. This is a generation that takes an active interest in the issues; we care deeply. While this interest is important and necessary, it cannot and will not have an impact unless we go out and vote.
Many college students today are disenfranchised and angry about the current state of American politics. But unless we go out and make sure that our voices are heard, change will not come and we will not have a right to complain. Make the decision to show up at the voting booth in your state’s upcoming primary and guarantee that your voice is heard.