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Voting is for old people

By Peter Trinkle
RAW STORY COLUMNIST

Urban Outfitters recently was criticized for selling a T-shirt proclaiming that "Voting Is for Old People." Many different voter advocacy groups correctly said that the shirt sent the wrong message to America's youths and encouraged them to give up their sacred franchise of a vote in every election.

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Now comes a study by the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate that says that voting in the first 20 Democratic primaries of 2004 (those through March 2, or Super Tuesday) had the third lowest turnout since 1960.

So, in an election that is as important as any in recent history, when the decision of who will oppose George W. Bush is vital, most of the electorate decided it would be better to stay at home than go out and cast a vote for one of his potential opponents.

This is not an indictment of John Kerry — he has a solid record and should provide the Democratic Party with a viable nominee — but rather a condemnation of the apathy of today's voter.

Millions complain that things in the country are bad - the Iraqi war is unjust and President Bush is completely ignoring the important issues of today. Yet, where are these protesters when it comes time to transform their objections into action? They certainly weren't at the polls.

Part of the strategy surrounding this year's primary calendar was to provide the Democrats with a nominee early in the process and to avoid a protracted battle that simply would showcase the weaknesses of a candidate and drain his treasuries.

In retrospect, perhaps this strategy backfired. The most vital component in a republic is participation. Since we do not vote directly on issues, but rather, elect the officials who vote on issues for us, it is imperative that we carefully select our representatives. No other office is more important than the presidency.

While our Founding Fathers wisely separated the powers of our government's branches, the realities of the 21st century endow the president with authority far beyond anything our forefathers could have imagined.

Perhaps the way that Kerry steamrolled through the primary calendar made us forget that his nomination was not a fait accomplish. Maybe a more spread-out primary calendar would have allowed the various candidates to showcase their strengths and encouraged real debate over who was the best person to challenge Bush.

Maybe this debate would have spurred the electorate to the polls.

Whatever the reason, when it came time to vote, people stayed home. John Edward's charisma, Howard Dean's passion, neither of these seemed to make a difference.

Instead, people assumed that Kerry would win and nothing they could do would make a difference in that outcome. Ironic considering that the 2000 election came down to a little more than 500 votes in Florida.

So, you have your nominee, not by choice, but by apathy. Don't make the mistake of being apathetic come November. If you are you will have no one to blame for the results.

 

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