A Country Still For the People

For all of you intellectuals on campus who are eager to wake up every Tuesday morning to grab a cup of Vermont Green Mountain Coffee on the way to class: I hope that you are equally enthusiastic about picking up a copy of our weekly paper. So, last week if you ventured into the editorials, you came upon an article called “Democracy, Shamocracy”.

Just like myself, I hope that it made you laugh a little, but you should have also dismissed the main argument that the people of this country no longer represent America and that we have no control over how our country is run. If we truly have no say in America, then why are we working so hard everyday? What is our purpose? Well, the purpose is that everyday Americans do have a say in changing America for the better whether it be within policy in government or with activism outside of Washington D.C. Similar to the author of last week’s article, I am astounded and excited in the newfound awareness about voting that the American public has suddenly stumbled upon, partly due to new global challenges as well as the upcoming Presidential election. I hope that this feeling of obligation to make our voice be heard does not die after this current war wanes into a far distant past. I am writing to tell you that your vote is a way to pave change, and that voice has not and, hopefully, will never disappear. Some might label me just another young idealist who views the world only through the lens of optimism. And my response to that is: how can we change for the better if we are pessimistic about our own abilities to facilitate any type of change? The problem with the people that are staying home on election night, who feel that their voice is only a lost cause in the voices of the richer America, is that they posses the a wrong fundamental view on the method of voting. Voter participation in this country is too often looked upon as voicing your opinion, and your single solitary opinion. Of course that voice, if it stands alone, will be washed away with millions of other voices.

But we must begin to view the method of voting not as an individual act, but an act of a group, a community, a coalition of people. When you form an opinion about a policy that you want to change, you will not change that policy by getting off the couch and screaming that it must be different. You correct the problem by forming a group of people who share your opinion and you can then take this opinion to Washington. The Congress is too often labeled as the rich white men who are out of touch with the greater community. The truth is that they are there to listen to our thoughts, we put them in office, we decide if they stay there, and as a community of people, we truly can affect government policy. Furthermore, in the article the author states, “I personally would not choose either Bush or Kerry to represent me ideologically or otherwise…” I understand why the author may feel somewhat disconnected with to multi-billionaires trying to fix the problems of the common everyday person. But I remain confused as to why so many people have trouble knowing their own ideology. We too often rely on candidate-centered campaigns that have, in turn, lowered our voter participation rate. The truth remains that the party ideologies are still intact: it is a fundamental difference between the two parties that you are either pro-tax breaks or pro-government spending.

This is not an issue on a specific candidate’s likeability, this is an issue on a particular party’s core beliefs. So, I challenge the author of last weeks article along with all the undecided intellectuals who read this paper, not to waffle between candidates in what has wrongly become a candidate-centered America. Study the party platforms and what each party stands for. I am not saying that we shouldn’t be looking for a strong leader who can communicate with people at home and others abroad – we should.

But we should be aware that behind every candidate is a party ideology- we as a group of voters, and not as individuals but as a collective community must decide on November 2nd what ideology we support. I am not going to state in this article who you should vote for and why, but more importantly that you just vote. This is a way that you can make a difference. We can influence policy making in Washington D.C., and our voice will not be lost. In the future, we just need to change our views about that vote and about that voice. View it as a community decision, not as an individual act.