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BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

Independent student content

BG Falcon Media

The BG News
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November 30, 2023

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Voting apathy solution not easy

Jon Stewart, the great political theorist of our day, has released a book titled “America: A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction.” He traces the history of our American democracy and pokes fun at the apathetic American citizenry.

He argues Election Day is the only time when Americans remember they live in a democracy. Yet, less than half of those who remember this is a democracy actually remember to vote on Election Day.

With our voter turnout rate being one of lowest in the free world, numerous “get out the vote” drives have appeared across the country.

University of New Mexico campus: How many times a day are you asked if you are registered to vote?

The New Voters Project, the Public Interest Resource Group and many other groups are paying interns thousands of dollars to convince students to vote.

While I appreciate what these groups are trying to do, I am also saddened that this is what our democracy has come to. We can only get Americans to vote by spending millions of dollars on campaigns that let people know they can vote.

Experts on student voting trends have been flown in to the University with the sole job of mobilizing our student population.

If you add the salaries of every intern who has been hired to register voters, probably hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent on the University of New Mexico campus alone.

Is this really necessary? It is a travesty if this is the only way we can get students excited about living in a democracy.

These “get out the vote” campaigns will not be successful. Americans, students especially, do not like being told to do anything.

No matter how many times Bono or Ted Danson tell young people they should vote, it will not make them care.

Erasing apathy from students is not going to come from any celebrity spokesperson or Rock the Vote concert.

Ironically, it is going to have to come from the classroom.

I hate the UNM core curriculum as much as anyone, but I might have to agree with an American History or American Politics class requirement.

Students often lack the context of history for our form of government and why it is so special.

After learning what life was like under colonial rule, students may understand why our government is set up the way it is.

After learning how repressed most of the world’s population is, students may appreciate the value of participating in their government.

When students learn about the struggle to achieve our democracy and the privilege of living in such a country, hopefully that will be enough to energize the vote.

This is not to say we live under a completely flawless system of government.

Stewart writes, “It is understandable why Americans may take their own government for granted, since we have a president chosen from a wide-open field of two men every four years, a Congress that has a 99 percent incumbency rate, and a Supreme Court comprised of nine politically appointed justices whose only oversight is the icy scythe of death.”

So, there are flaws within our system that may discourage potential voters from getting involved.

At times, it might seem like the system is too hard to change and voting makes little difference in our everyday lives.

But the key to mobilizing students is not to force them or guilt them into voting on Election Day. Bringing in celebrities to tell students to vote is not going to solve our apathy problem.

Students will have to realize on their own that they live in a democracy every day, not just on Election Day.

Students will have to understand that living in a democracy is a privilege, but it comes with certain obligations.

Once students realize this, we will have a democracy in action, not democracy inaction.

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