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You see them just about anywhere on campus—register-to-vote booths, volunteer booths, people flagging you down to sign their petition. And for the most part, you just walk past them, don’t you?
In the past, I’ve been guilty of it too. I love politics, and I love talking about them. But sometimes, there is a sense of powerlessness attached to them. We all get a vote. However, the truth can sometimes be painfully obvious that one vote doesn’t make much of a difference.
So why bother with politics at all then, right?
It’s no big secret that our age group is viewed as one of the most apathetic demographics in America. But we aren’t apathetic—we know we aren’t. But there is a gap between our rhetoric and how we actively participate in the political system, which is why our demographic is so frequently cited as such.
People our age talk about politics constantly. We argue, and we have opinions. It is time for us to take the next step however, and do instead of just say. Boulder is a notoriously political town, with political opportunities around almost every corner.
Still, it seems there is a disconnect between the way we see politics, and the way we experience them. Even if you do vote regularly, it’s an inherently impersonal system, and changes that we vote for at the top rarely seem to make their way back down to us in an impactful way.
So what is there to be done with our apathy and our disillusionment? The answer issurprisingly quite simple: get involved.
Here’s the thing. If you spend enough time around college students, politics are bound to come up. But the rhetoric often stops there. Everyone is passionate about something, but how many actually go out and do something?
Maybe your experience is different than mine. But from what I’ve been able to tell, we as students are more reactive than we are proactive. In other words, we get fired up about something, say that we’ll do something about it, and then something else comes up and that fiery political passion of ours falls to the wayside.
This is not to suggest that there are no politically active students out there. Rather, this is to say that we can easily increase the number. Think about what makes you passionate, what makes you angry, or what gets you fired up when it comes to American politics.
And then act on it.
You don’t have to be tear-gassed in a rowdy anti-war protest to gain “politically active” status, either. In my experience, small-scale works too.
One of my personal hot-button issues is environmental awareness; I cringe at the sight of an un-recycled plastic bottle. So in high school, a group of people and I organized a carpooling event to increase awareness about car pollution. We gave out prizes to those who participated, and badgered those who didn’t (only on occasion, of course).
By no means was this a grand, national-level gesture. But it raised awareness about something I found important to an otherwise unaware population.
On a campus as large as CU’s, there is a club, group or volunteer opportunity for just about every political niche. Being active is the most effective way to make political change at the local level. Trust me, it is empowering to see the tangible impact that you can make.
If you feel removed from the political system, it’s only because you choose to feel that way, whether it’s intentional or not. The opportunities are laid out for us, but we have to be the ones to take the initiative to get involved. Break that stereotype, and prove we aren’t apathetic.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Taryne Tosetti at Taryne.firstname.lastname@example.org.