Caught in the Crossfire: Voting is an essential civic duty

By Matt Van Dyke

One of the most difficult decisions people need to make on a regular basis is who will represent them in our government.

The reason for its difficulty is that, many times, our choices are so different from our own viewpoints. Many people lament the fact that they have to choose from “the lesser of two evils.” The choices are often cited as reasons for growing apathetic with the democratic process. However, this dilemma often arises due to a self-fulfilling prophecy: the apathy of the moderate.

On March 21, Illinois will be hosting its election primary. This primary will display who the nominations will be for the upcoming election in November. Traditionally, the average voter does not vote in the primaries; for whatever reason, the primary season tends to be dominated by the hard-line voter; one who is very conservative or very liberal.

Despite a 2010 Gallup poll stating that moderates make up 35 percent of the American voter population, we do not see candidates who brand themselves as “moderate.”

The reason? Moderates do not devote time or money to political campaigns.

Friends and peers constantly ask me why there is no third party that reflects the moderates of America. This is the reason: Average Americans who are not ideological do not vote often enough.

As college students, our greatest political power is our vote. More often than not, we do not have thousands of dollars to donate to a campaign or a Super PAC. But at the end of the day, my vote is symbolically equal to Dr. Bowling’s vote, and to Bill Gates’ vote, and to Peyton Manning’s vote.

Never underestimate your power to choose; by not voting, one is indirectly validating the eventual choice.

The power of youth in this country has grown exponentially since the voting age was lowered. Until 2008, however, that power was rarely utilized. The information American college students have at their fingertips is greater than at any point in human history.

I urge you, before March 21, read up on who you want to be your voice in Springfield and Washington. Tell your friends what you think and what you want.

For those who claim to be “not political,” I hate to burst your bubble, but everything is political. Upset at the price of gas or the war in Afghanistan? Show that through your vote. Angry at the treatment of the poor in our nation or the rights of children? Show that through your choice. Now is the time to act for what you believe in.

Whether you are Republican or Democrat, or perhaps somewhere in between, vote in the upcoming elections. The only piece of advice I can give you is to vote your conscience.

You don’t need to impress your friends, family or pastor; vote for what you believe is important.

When I cast my vote next week at BVM Maternity School, I hope to see some of you doing the same.

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