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A college student’s appeal to peers: Get involved, make a difference

REUTERS/John Amis
Shaping the country's future can be as simple as standing in line at a polling place to cast your vote.

Among the greatest blessings of our country are that Americans can have a say in who our elected leaders are and that we can be involved in what policies are enacted. Now, as a fourth-year college student, I’ve come to more fully realize the importance of political participation.

I used to never care about politics. There was never enough time, it seemed too boring, or even worse, I felt that it didn’t matter to me. Whenever I heard of politics, I always pictured old men in suits and ties, arguing about issues in some far-off place.

But as I grew older, I realized that I can’t just sit back and watch politics play out — that politics is in every facet of my life (whether I like it or not). I realized that not only can I be a part of the decision-making process, and thereby make a difference in my community and country, but that I have to.

It’s easy to stay on the sidelines

As a college student it is easy to think that our leaders don’t care or listen to us. It is easy to make up excuses or find a more “fun” thing to get involved with. But each and every day I am reminded of the impact our elected leaders have — on everything from how much in taxes are taken out of our paychecks to why we go to war.

I do not know the answers to the questions involved in such decisions, to say the least, but what I do know is that each and every one of us has a say and an impact on why things are the way they are today. And from your paycheck to your grocery bill, everything is affected by politics and the decisions our leaders make. 

I don’t know about you, but the reason I went to college is so I could get a job that will help me live a comfortable life and make a difference in the lives of others. But the unemployment rate for the 18- to 24-year-old demographic has reached a high of over 16 percent, which is twice that of the general population. More than 40 percent of college students/graduates have taken an unpaid job or moved back in with their parents. Do you want to be a part of that statistic, too? With nearly 2 million graduates expected to enter the job market in 2012, now is the time to get involved and make our voices heard. We can change that.

Cast a vote, write a message …

As college students, we are faced with many difficult decisions about our future. There is a lot we cannot control. But what we can control is the difference we make not only for our lives, but for the lives of many generations yet to come. The best part is that it is quite easy to do!  All it takes is standing in line at a polling place to cast your vote, or writing a short message to your elected leader, or even talking about your cares and concerns with fellow members of the community. One voice may seem small, but together we can do so much.

We as college students are at a crossroads in our lives.  We do not know what the future will bring. But we can do our part to make sure that our future is bright and prosperous.

Ashley Goettl, 21, of North Mankato is a student at the  University of Wisconsin-River Falls and a summer intern at VOICES of Conservative Women.

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/10/2012 - 07:58 am.

    I understand that young people

    tend to vote for the candidate who’s attractive and will generally overlook that candidate’s history, accomplishments and position on the issues if that candidate is popular with the late-night comics and the cultural elites.

    The Left knows that as a demographic, young people are the most vulnerable to peer pressure and will go along to get along with what their friends say. Having a circle of friends outside of family that you can share things with is very important to people at that stage in life. That’s why they target the young through the popular culture and through academia to not only indoctrinate them into leftist views, but to use the power of peer pressure to dissuade them from considering, and especially voicing, an opposing view. Those who disagree with the popular notions are ridiculed and ostricized as stupid and not being informed, even in settings such as academia where differing views are supposed to be encouraged.

    But young people have to wise up and start asking themselves some serious questions.

    How can Barack Obama, a man who has less work experience in the private sector than an average college student, who’s never had a real job, much less created one, turn this economy around? It’s gotten steadily worse under his leadership. There are more people in poverty and receiving food stamps than at any time in history. There are more people who are out of the workforce than at any time since WW2 and yet the unemployment rate is 8.3%. If everyone who had been in the workforce in the year 2000 was still in it today, the unemployment rate would be 14%.

    Does it make sense to raise taxes during a recession? On anyone? Does it make sense for the government to be subsidizing banks and large corporations under the guise of “saving” an industry? Does it make sense that most Americans (51%) are now being supported by the government in some way yet most Americans pay nothing in income taxes. Does it make sense that Social Security is a giant Ponzi scheme where those who contributed to the system the earliest will see a return on their investment while young people won’t? We’ve become a nation where more people are riding in the wagaon than are pulling it.

    Obama and the democrats like to ridicule George Bush and bash republican ideas of growing the economy through free market economics, but during George Bush’s time in office the unemployment rate averaged 5.2%. A gallon of gasoline was $1.89. The collective net worth of our citizens was 40% higher.

    The point being, if you’re concerned for your future, it’s time to ignore the useful idiots on Comedy Central and on campus and vote for leadership who knows what they’re doing.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/10/2012 - 08:37 am.

      Any young people reading Mr. Tester’s treatise here . . . ..

      should be aware that Mr. Tester believes the 19th Amendment was a mistake and that women should not have been granted the vote.

      So take all of his high-minded pronouncements here with a grain of salt, because they are coming from someone who actually believes the author of this article should not be able to exercise the right she is so eloquently writing in support of.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/10/2012 - 12:49 pm.

        I’m still waiting for someone to disagree with me

        that if the 19th Amendment was repealed the democrats would never win another election.

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/10/2012 - 03:21 pm.

          What a ridiculous non sequitur

          Why should a discussion about disenfranchising roughly half of the population from their right to vote even have a place at the same table as a discussion about Democratic electability success?

          But wait – that’s the same argument as Voter ID. Let’s make it harder for “non-desirables” to vote so that we can get “the right kind of people” into office.

          And this is why I continue to say that Republican “values” would throw us all back into the 19th century if they had their way.

  2. Submitted by Justin Adams on 08/10/2012 - 09:15 am.

    A few points…

    There is a high level of correlation between the attractiveness of candidates and their electoral oucomes, but the age of the perceiver doesn’t seem to be a significant factor in the intensity of the bias of voters toward more attractive candidates. The mean age of participants in a study titled “The Effects of Physical and Vocal Attractiveness on Impression Formulation of Politicians” by M. Surawski and E. Ossoff (2006) was 43.06, and the findings of that study confirmed and closely conformed to the findings of a very famous earlier study on the topic (Efran & Patterson, 1974), conducted entirely with a population of college students.

    Young people are no more likely to succomb to voting for someone because they’re more attractive than middle aged people.

    As for targeting the young through academia, the CRNC (college republicans national committee) boasts that it is “the nation’s oldest, largest, and most active youth political organization. Founded in 1892, there are currently over 250,000 CR’s around the country on 1,800+ campuses in every state and DC.” (http://www.crnc.org/about/)

    If there is a irrational appeal (as claimed) to young voters that can be electorally exploited, it would seem that the GOP has positioned itself well to take advantage of it. I think the reason that youth are unwilling to express the view that homosexuality is wrong, or that college women shouldn’t be able to get birth control covered by their insurance policies, is because young people think these positions are absurd, limit their own rights, and stand in way of personal objectives. GOP positions are frequently perceived as attacks on young people’s identities and values.

    Young people see many of these views as bigotry plain and simple – and it’s hard to imagine how “differing views” that are perceived to be bigotry can be cited as examples of things about which debate is to be encouraged.If the GOP wanted to see more college kids expressing the views of their party, perhaps the party should adopt some positions that college kids could support.

  3. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 08/10/2012 - 03:15 pm.

    Right on!

    While I might disagree with the voices of most people who label themselves as conservative, I do agree that it really should be an obligation to vote. Forces are at work to limit the voices of voters, particularly college-age voters, and they are the ones with the most to gain or lose by the political process. One shouldn’t simply sit by and let the older people make decisions for them. Young people should take their fate by the horns and wrestle it out of grandpa’s hands and prove that they, in fact, are ready to take on the world they will inherit.

    Oh, and ignore Mr. Tester. Pat is correct. He believes that not only women shouldn’t be allowed to vote, but he doesn’t like the idea of letting young people vote, either. For some reason he claims “personal responsibility” only as long as that personal responsibility results in actions and words that agree with his views precisely. Young people, particularly women, tend not to agree with Mr. Tester.

  4. Submitted by Diane Clare on 08/10/2012 - 05:26 pm.

    college vote

    I have no idea or opinion on the authors political views but is right about the importance of students and every young person to pay enough attention to politics and all levels of government to form their own opinion.

    We have been given a valuable lesson over the last elections, who wins makes a major difference and if you want a say in your future, learn everything you can about the candidates, from their formative years, their associates and associations, their work history, their views, their politics, their failures as well as successes, their civility, their ethics. Forget party designation.

    Figure out who might be best for whatever your future dreams may be and go out and vote for them.

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