Ever since the beginning of the new year, numerous candidates have set up exploratory committees in order to determine their chances of running in the upcoming election. As the end of Bush’s eight years in office finally comes into sight, it seems that John McCain and Hillary Clinton will be the front runners in the race. With the next presidential election on the horizon, candidates are beginning to place a larger focus on campaigning on college campuses around the country.
p. It was only in 1972 that the 26th Amendment was enacted, allowing those between the ages of 18 and 21 to vote. However, since then voter turnout for those under the age of 30 has dramatically declined. In the 2000 election, according to the Associate Press exit poll, only 37 percent of our age group voted. Political analysts have speculated for years on why the majority of young voters passively dismiss their right to vote. Some speculate that there is little motivation to get involved, since issues such as Medicare and drug costs seem so far removed from our own problems. Others wonder if the apparent failures of the current government make us think that involvement in politics is no longer an effective way to make a difference.
p. Obviously, there are many reasons why people don’t vote. I think that for most it is the doubt that their individual vote will actually make a difference when millions of votes are cast. That doubt grows exponentially in a state like Virginia, which seems to almost always vote Republican.
p. In recent decades, numerous national campaigns, such as MTV’s “Rock the Vote” have sought to motivate the youngest generations to register and vote. However, in the 2004 election, only 11.6 million people between the ages of 18 and 24 turned out to vote. Though the 11.6 million who voted represents the highest number since 1972, that number is somewhat misleading, as a much larger percentage of those who could vote still chose to stay home.
p. According to a study conducted by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, the majority of students who voted in the last election are more likely to vote for a presidential candidate from an opposing party in the upcoming election. Also according to the poll, the war in Iraq and Social Security were voted as the top concerns for college students. Both issues are likely to head the debates between the candidates running for office in the 2008 election.
p. In the past eight years, we have entered a war for the wrong reasons, college tuition has risen over 40 percent since 2000 for four-year public universities (according to a 2005 report by College Board) and we have lost Social Security. Now more then ever, the issues directly affect our generation. The problem is that those who aren’t voting seem to be the same people who keep complaining. We as a demographic represent millions of swing voters who have the power to greatly shift American politics. So for all of you who complain about Bush’s failures, let me ask you this: did you vote? You have no right to complain if you didn’t. So, as P. Diddy once said, “Vote or Die.”
p. __Rachael Siemon-Carome, a freshman at the College, is a Staff Columnist. Her views do not necessarily represent those of The Flat Hat.__