Education essential for voters

October 27, 2008 — by Tim Tsai

At this time in the presidential election, it is not uncommon for the newspapers and airwaves to be filled with commentators complaining about the state of our country. Coupled with the turmoil on Wall Street, there is an endless stream of criticism, leading many potential voters to voice their opinions. Unless, however, these potential voters turn into actual and informed voters, their complaints hold no value, as their voices will not be represented by the Electoral College.

In the 2004 presidential election, less than half the qualified voters ages 18 to 24 participated in electing George W. Bush. In other words, half of the nation’s future opted out on choosing their leader.

Young voters must exert their influence on this country’s future because it is their future, more than that of any other demographic. The election of either John McCain or Barack Obama will dramatically affect the future of America, and the effects will be felt for decades to come.

The attitude of eligible voters who refuse to turn up at the polls is extremely problematic. They have no right to complain and whine about the shabby state of the country unless they put in the effort to vote for representatives and propositions. It was their choice to not vote. It was their choice not to help better the country.

Furthermore, voting is a privilege, not a right. It is a blessing that our country is run on democratic roots. Numerous countries give citizens no say in their government. Nonetheless, if voters do not turn up to the polls on election day, the government is not truly run by the people, just the ones who bother to vote. This presents a major problem, as only portions of our policy reflect the wants and needs of the people.

Simply voting also does not solve the electorate problem. Many voters are just not well-informed on contemporary issues. Voters who are not educated about their own views and the plans of their candidates are just as dangerous as non-voters, because their votes are going toward a cause that they do not fully understand. Voters who simply revel in the rhetoric of a campaign speech or vote based on the choices of their family and friends are not making educated decisions.

Because many voters are not looking at important issues, candidates can get away with running slipshod campaigns, relying on the rhetoric of “change,” and accusing the opposing candidate of being “a pop star.” Additionally, the campaign ads completely over-simplify the campaign issues, or engage in mud-slinging, attacking the character and history of an opposing candidate. These ads merely distract voters from the pertinent issues of a campaign and seek to win over votes without explaining anything about a candidate’s stance.

Informed voters will more effectively shape the country, as leaders will be forced to move their campaigns from rhetorical mudslinging to matters involving policy. And with more votes being cast in an informed and educated manner, incompetent leaders will be weeded out, leaving only the best candidates to face the challenges of the 21st century.

In order to vote effectively, the voters need to primarily exercise their privilege to vote. They must get their voice and concerns heard by the leaders of our country. Moreover, they must be aware of the issues plaguing the country. They must base their decisions on legitimate arguments combined with their own sentiments.

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