With several days until Election Day, incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney are no doubt fervently clamoring for last-minute attempts to win the support of undecided voters.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to prospective voters in a Philadelphia suburb about the 2012 presidential election and discovered that many are still undecided about which candidate to vote for.
Worse yet, some deliberated not voting at all. A disgruntled man affirmed, “I’m just not going to vote this year.” Another echoed his sentiments by bluntly declaring, “I’m not even going to bother.”
This disturbing trend of passivism can also be found on Drexel’s campus. There was a sizable amount of students who refused to register to vote despite being eligible. One student’s excuse was, “I am not into politics!”
The problem I found in suburban Philadelphia and Drexel echoes the overarching problem of the disappointing lack of political participation in the United States. The United States has one of the worst voter turnouts of democratic countries, with only 57 percent of eligible voters voting in the 2008 presidential election and 42 percent of eligible voters voting in the 2010 midterm election. The United States is one of many countries to hold democratic elections, but slightly less than half the population ignorantly takes the privilege for granted. Despite the painstaking efforts that the United States, as a country, has undergone to provide equal voting rights for all, the current generation could not be more indifferent about voting.
Many feel disenfranchised and disheartened by politics. The din of the campaign ads, the debates and the numerous phone calls made by local campaign offices may be too much for some to handle. It is easy to eradicate politics from one’s life. It is easy to tune out the “noise” that is politics and assume a “politics-free” life.
However, it must be noted that politics is ubiquitous; policies directly impact lives, and ignorance has its consequences. For example, in the 2010 midterm election, voters let Democrats lose the majority in the House, which subsequently led to an ineffective Congress. People must pay vigilant attention to politics and participate in the political process.
Olivia Deng is a freshman political science major at Drexel University. She can be contacted at [email protected].