Voters shouldn’t take privilege for granted

Since mid-September, polling sites across the nation have opened their doors to early voters, who are breaking voter turnout records at an astounding rate.

They’re not the only ones making history – millions of new voters have registered at unprecedented rates, especially in minority groups and in the youth demographic. It has become easier than ever to get involved in the political process through dozens of Web sites promoting voter registration and education, or local campaign and party headquarters that have redoubled their efforts for the upcoming election.

Although these are encouraging signs that voter apathy is receding, many are still skeptical of participating at all, and persuading these citizens to cast their vote will be more important than ever this year.

In elections past, voter turnout has been less than stellar, leading many of our own pundits and others around the world to diagnose that the American people suffer from apathy.

There is some truth to this – amidst the swarms of enthusiastic new voters, there are also those who still feel their vote counts for nothing and therefore will change nothing. In light of the events of the past eight years, this attitude is no longer acceptable.

America is not a nation that should ever have been characterized by apathy, especially toward its own system of government. For years, people of all backgrounds fought to earn and protect one thing that does not truly exist in the rest of the world as it exists here: the right to vote. Some even thought this right was important enough to die for, and did so that future generations could have their say in a government of the people, by the people.

Yet, for all the early voting and absentee balloting, voter registration drives and block walks, there are still those who could care less for such a privilege. They do not seem to understand that taking any kind of action to initiate change, even if it seems small, leads to improvement.

If no other good can come from voting, we can at least prove to the 24-hour news cycle and our global audience that they are wrong; that we are no longer an apathetic nation and we care very much for our future and saving our ailing reputation throughout the world.

The American people need to prove that we are a force to be reckoned with, one that will not allow our situation to stagnate any further, and that in itself will be an initiation of change and a very strong gesture that the years to come are going to be radically different from those of the past.

When the primary elections were taking place this year, I and many of my friends were finally old enough to vote and were excited about doing so. Participating in politics has never been easier for young people as it is now, but it has also never been more important for us.

Although many of us are now adults in the eyes of the law, we will truly come of age to inherit adult responsibilities during the upcoming administration. The jobs we will seek once we graduate and the lifestyle we will pursue afterward will be directly and dramatically influenced by the choices we make now, especially in the political sphere.

It is our responsibility to be informed and to make our own choices instead of voters who are twice our age, and yet seem to be the only ones concerned with their future.

It’s only a matter of time before the full weight of the problems from generations before falls on our shoulders, and it is up to us to be willing and ready to fix them now for the sake of our future and that of generations to come.

Maggie Fraser is a freshman premajor from Fort Worth.