Tag Archives: Democracy

Why I Will Not Vote This Next Election

I am the apathetic weight dragging this nation down. In two weeks, over 100 million Americans will cast their votes, and I will not be one of them. Both campaigns and their many acolytes on TV, Twitter, Facebook and street corners keep telling me that this is one of the most important elections in our country’s history.

This very newspaper has given ample space in an effort to help you choose who and what to vote for in these critical times. But the more I hear out of the mouths of these two “leaders”, the less guilty I feel about my choice.

The last debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney did nothing more then confirm how little a difference my choice will actually make. Rather then a substantive debate about foreign policy, the candidates battled to prove who loved Israel more, and tolerated Iran less. In the preceding events, we heard the pro-life, trickle-down conservative defend binders full of choices and seemingly reverse every part of his tax plan.

But it was the supposed socialist who really turned my head; I heard the progressive Democrat I voted for in 2008 defend guns, Israel, and the unlawful murder of thousands through drone warfare. Tell me again how important my vote is, how much it could change things?

The left loves to cite an obstructionist Congress, a still stifling economic climate, and the limited sample of four years.

While I accept all of these as contributing factors, I cannot assign them all the blame. Nearly four years after the Bush Administration, the security state it created has yet to surrender any of the powers and privileges taken in the name of “national security.”

An American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was never convicted in a US court of any crime, was assassinated on the orders of the President. It took more then two years for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, one of the most ridiculous policies in the history of our military, to finally be abolished, and more then three years for our “progressive” leader to finish his evolution concerning civil rights and finally support marriage equality.

How am I supposed to believe that four more years will grant this president the courage of his convictions?

Spare me your earnest appeals to the spirit of democracy and the responsibilities of a citizen. I am not uninterested, uninformed, or undecided.

I prefer the policies Barack Obama doesn’t have the courage to defend, to the policies that Mitt Romney only pretends to support. Maybe others can accept the electoral reality that necessitates concessions, compromises, and outright lies.

Liberalism is a dirty word because no one with any real power has borne it with pride in nearly half a century.

Barry Goldwater, although a conservative, is a model for that pride that is nonexistent today; he chose ideals over votes and lost in a historic landslide. Yet modern conservatism rose from the ashes of that defeat to dominate the decades that followed.

Until we find a liberal nearly as brave as Mr. Goldwater to call herself or himself a bad name, and stand for unpopular ideals, then I see no reason to vote.

Egypt and the American Dilemma

The fall of Hosni Mubarak is justice by any estimation. I must admit, the skepticism I carried throughout the waves of protest melted at the scenes of ecstatic triumph from Cairo. Now, nearly a month after the events that have forever changed the calculus of the Middle East began, those concerns and worries cannot be ignored for much longer. What will this “New-Egypt” become?

Liberalism has many enemies in the modern world. Amongst these foes, none carries the violent energy and psychological momentum now embodied by Islamic fundamentalism. By the actions of the secular, repressive regimes that have stifled much of the Muslim world for the last half century, and by our own nation’s arrogance and cynical indifference, radicals calling for a government firmly founded in religious dogma have emerged as the main voices of dissent across the region. The ridiculous campaign against the Cordoba House in New York, and the ban on Sharia law in Oklahoma display both an ignorance and bigotry out of place in the flagship of the free world. That said, as disciples of freedom, we cannot allow our own extremists to temper our opposition to the reactionary forces intent on removing the so-called “decadence” of western philosophy.

Thirty years ago, the world watched the hopes and dreams Iranian Revolution slip into the hands of the faithful, never to be seen again. However, at this moment, there is no evidence that events in Egypt will follow the example of Iran. The Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest opposition party in the country and star of Glen Beck’s latest nightmares, have promised not to field a candidate for president in the coming elections. Assurances have been made that the treaty with Israel will not be broken. With the army providing a degree of stability and continuity in this transition period, there is good reason to believe our greatest fears might not come to pass.

Democracy has little or no precedence in the Arab world. The victory of Hamas in Palestine’s last elections, followed by the disgraceful attempts by Egypt, Israel, and the US to overturn the result through blockade and selective empowerment of Fatah, means that neither the West, nor the Egyptians embark on this new frontier with mutual trust. The Obama administration now must now decide how this country will behave as the post-American age dawns in the Middle East. The regimes and kleptocracies supported for decades by US guns and money can see their day of reckoning on the horizon.  This being an opinion piece, tradition requires that I offer a solution to the problems presented. What road will Egypt take? As inspiring and cathartic as the scenes from Cairo may be, we cannot shut our eyes with childlike belief that good triumphs over evil. I remain deeply conflicted by what has happened and what is still to come. But for all my fears and reservations, I still have faith. Faith in the people who risked so much in the face of stubborn repression. Faith in the emerging leaders seeking to build meaningful institutions that will breed a civic culture of accountability and accesability. But most of all, I have faith in the inevitability of freedom’s victory over oppression. Let the joyous cry of the multitudes in Tahrir Square echo in the halls of Pyonyang, Beijing, Khartoum and Washington. Let us pray that no tyrant will ever feel safe again.

Nick White is a sophomore history major.

Voting Rights Should Be Cherished, Utilized

Election season is well under way and candidates have been scrambling around, marking their territories and lobbying for all the votes they can get. Many college students seem to be on either one end of the spectrum or the other: there are those who press us with political issues and urge us to “make our voices heard” and those who seem not to care and often refrain from voting. We may often take it for granted that our political system is well enough established that all legal residents of the United States have the right to vote, but it is important to remember that this is not a universal guarantee.

Indeed, if as many citizens around the world had the equal voting conditions that we in the U.S. do, our TV screens and newspapers would not be filled with the latest updates on “election violence”. Universally, most countries have made major progress in the last several decades to establish a voting age of 18 (or in some countries, as low as 16). But despite all of that progress, there remain millions of college students around the world who cannot vote due to unjust voting systems or higher age restrictions. In Japan and Tunisia, for example, you cannot vote until you reach the age of 20. There also remain a handful of countries, including Cameroon, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Central African Republic and Oman (among others), of which the voting age is 21. Is it even feasible to imagine that the right of passage these citizens wait 21 years for is so critically different from what we wait for? Imagine celebrating your 21st birthday not by hitting the bars, but by registering to vote.

Then there is Uzbekistan. In a country where almost half the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, overwhelming political corruption is not a surprising fact. The target of many human-interest organizations, Uzbekistan is currently under surveillance for several human rights violations. Among these may be the fact that Uzbekistan citizens are denied the right to vote until they have reached 25 years of age. What makes this even more devastating is the fact that over 34 percent of the population is under the age of 14. This means that the majority of Uzbek people are denied almost any say in their country’s government or political figures. If these people can wait 25 years to cast a vote in a national election, students in the U.S. can take five minutes to register to vote (www.rockthevote.com).

For those who say, “I am one person, my vote won’t count,” contemplate this: in the United States, everyone over the age of 18 can vote, whether male, female, gay, straight, wealthy or lower class. In Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by a monarchy, the only people allowed to vote in the country’s single local election (held in 2005) were male citizens over the age of 21. That means that there is an entire demographic in the U.S., comprised of females and persons aged 18 – 20, who can cast that many more votes than their Saudi counterparts. Therefore, take advantage of our democracy. There is no effort in voting- it’s as simple as a few clicks of the mouse and some dots on a paper. If that’s too much for you to muster, consider a move to Uzbekistan. I’m sure it’ll be a welcome relief from all the campaign jabber.

Andrea Powell is a freshman media studies major