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I do not take much interest in politics. This is not something I am proud of – there is no excuse for my lack of passion other than the fact that I would rather devote my time and attention to other things.
However, this election has been different. This election is impossible to neglect. For me, it is the first time I am able to vote, and therefore my interest in politics has consequently spiked. For others, it is an election that demands exquisite attention and participation. I’m voting, not just because my mom would kill me if I didn’t, but also because it would be ignorant and idiotic not to.
According to an article in the New York Times, more Americans have registered to vote this year than in any election in our nation’s history. Over the past eight years, only 50 million Americans had registered to vote; this year, 200 million have. So why is this the case?
I can only speak from my personal speculation as a person who has always lived life with an apathetic attitude toward government and legislature. But, I would guess that it is simply because this election has been characterized by controversy after controversy. Whether it is about con-artist Hillary Clinton or the ego-maniacal tyrant Donald Trump, everybody is talking. These candidates are too big, too loud and too obnoxious to ignore. Which, in this case, is a good thing— people are paying attention and people are voting.
What it really comes down to is this: There are different types of voters, each type having a different effect on the democratic process.
There are the heavily informed voters, those who actively educate themselves on the political candidates, campaigns and policies. This, in my opinion, is the quintessential voter, the kind we need the most.
Then, there are the partial voters: those who form their own opinions based off of what they know and the candidate’s general ideas. This is the category into which I’ve fallen. We watch the debates and talk to others about what is going on, but still don’t know everything. Our information is the readily available, in-your-face information that may not necessarily be enough.
Lastly, there are the “whoever-my-parents-support” voters. This is the voter who does not care to educate themselves on anything that is currently happening, but blindly channels their parents’ opinions through their own mouths. This is arguably the most detrimental voter to our current election. If we, as an embodiment of our nation’s future, aimlessly follow the judgments of our parents, or any other influential figures in our lives, we have no hope as a nation.
This election has forced me to make the shift of being a politically uninformed, negligent voter to someone who actually gives a shit. This election has forced out of many people, a desire to make even the slightest difference in the world. Regardless of one’s specific political preference, the desire is there. It has been dug up and manifested and turned into 150 million new first-time voters, dying to have a say in the destiny of our country.
With great power comes great responsibility. While it is energizing to know that this many more people are exercising their right to vote, it remains imperative to be informed about current issues and what you are voting on. As a people, it is up to us. It is up to every single lonely little voice to speak up and be educated. This is the time that counts.
Contact CU Independent Opinion Writer Julia Spadaro at firstname.lastname@example.org.