Election day is my favorite holiday. Yes, a holiday. For me, there is no better reason to celebrate than getting my vote on. Once 7pm comes around you can find me in front of the TV hanging on to every word, as the first election results come in. For the past few weeks I have annoyed my friends and peers to no end, posting Facebook statuses and tweeting about the importance of voting.
At 3:30am, after watching election coverage for more than eight hours, I stumbled my way to bed, overtired and slightly worried about my homework that went unfinished. By 7am I was back to checking election updates every five minutes to ensure I didn’t miss a beat.
I consider myself a political junkie; politics are what I do, they’re what I love, but for many students here at Syracuse University, and a large number of young people in the United States, November 2nd was nothing more than the long awaited end to months of negative campaign ads. And while I am equally disgusted by campaign ads that essentially do nothing more than pinpoint one “bad guy” against another, I can’t understand why this negativity would motivate people not to vote.
Many of my friends expressed disappointment in the candidate choices this November, but it seems these frustrations aren’t based on policies, but rather campaigns. I’m sure this feeling is not shared by only college age voters, but when almost half of my friends have consciously made a decision not to vote – either because they don’t care about politics or don’t approve of the candidate choices – it is a problem.
There seems to be some type of disconnect in understanding how truly important voting is. For me, voting is more than a civic responsibility; it is a privilege. It seems we have become so used to having information on demand, that putting in the slightest bit of effort to make an educated political decision is too much of a hassle. I say this not to be cynical but because when I tell my peers that they should educate themselves about politics, it is seen as some type of radical statement or insult. I didn’t think this needed to be said, but maybe it does – political campaign ads are not meant to inform voters on policy! There is no policy that can be explained in under a minute.
I’m not sure what it will take to spark interest in more young voters, or really voters in general. I don’t, however, think it helps to have politicians, both Democrat and Republican, to be essentially campaigning against the institution of government. It feels as though Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have been running for every political position in the country. Each new politician takes on the role of “I’m just like you” or “I’m not a Washington politician.” But are these the type of people we want running a country? Personally, I don’t want someone just like me running for office. Next election cycle I wouldn’t be surprised to hear candidates claiming they don’t even know where Washington is.
Despite my aggravations, the next two years will be interesting to watch. With a Republican House and a Democratic Senate I’m interested in seeing how and if Congress will make it past major gridlock and where President Obama will go from here. The majority of the US might just be recovering from Midterm 2010, grateful for the current lack of political ads, but I’m ready for round two. Let’s go 2012!