Nov 13, 2007

Political apathy stifles student voters

by Stephen Nelson

    It is hard to imagine that the 2008 presidential election is roughly a year away. A year sounds like a long time, but to a candidate the election is right around the corner.
    Neither party has a definite candidate for representation yet, and the battle is fierce. It seems there is always someone new entering the race, and for a voter that can be overwhelming. Understanding who the candidates are and the issues they support will fill in the gaps left by the deluge of confusion and politics. 
    Elected officials cannot get elected in the first place if not for the votes of citizens.
    The key to getting people to vote is to get them to overcome their apathy. Many feel voting and understanding politics are too confusing or that they do not matter, but the truth is that every vote does matter.
    Apathy among younger generations is one of the major concerns of candidates. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s report of the 2004 election, only 47 percent of citizens 18 to 24 voted.
    Many candidates are targeting the younger generation by creating MySpace pages and broadcasting videos on YouTube.  Facebook has applications as well, allowing members to publicly display which candidate they support.
    Some of these applications are devoted to supporting certain candidates, political parties and debatable issues.
    Applications to take quizzes and see which candidates align to the person’s political views are also available to download for each registered user.  Becoming aware that the election is important should also open doors to which issues are important.
    The issues citizens care about directly coincide with which candidate to support.  Citizens can find a Web site, publication or news network that is trustworthy and find out what it says about the candidates.
    For example, the Washington Post has a vast store of information about candidates available on its Web site.
    The site divides candidates into political parties and lists the frontrunners at the top.  Pictures are placed beside the candidate’s name for easy recognition.
    The best thing about the Post’s coverage is that each candidate has his or her own profile page with biographies, links to Web sites, major headlines and an “issue tracker,” which tracks how many times issues are mentioned in the news by that certain candidate. 
    CNN has a similar setup, but it is not as streamlined as the Post’s.  YouTube and CNN have teamed up to deliver live debates from questions submitted on YouTube.
    The Democratic debate can be viewed online, and submissions are still being accepted for the Republican debate that is scheduled to take place on Nov. 28 on YouTube’s Web site.
    It is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of candidates and the amount of information revealed about these candidates. 
Deciding whether Al Gore is going to enter the race and shake things up or if Stephen Colbert is a serious candidate are irrelevant issues.
    The point of supporting a candidate is to support them.  Research their background, faith, career and morality. Tell other voters and get them involved.
    Choosing a candidate is like making any rational decision.  Choose the candidate who is most appealing to you and has the credentials and ideals best suited for the situation.
 
Contact Stephen Nelson at snelson2@liberty.edu.


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