When apathy knocks on the SC's door
to turn in this column is rapidly approaching, and like the 'Talking Heads' of 1980s rock fame, I'm on a road to nowhere. You know how it is. The Student Confederation elections are coming up and the candidates, campaigns and editors want something juicy to shake up the race. Well, for a rather clean election (by AU standards) with a number of legitimate candidates, this one just isn't the barnburner of years past.
That isn't to say it's not important. The SC elections are an incredibly important part of American University and mean a lot to the candidates out there, all of whom I genuinely believe have the interests of the students at heart.
But what are the interests of the students? No, not the students in the GA. Not the students who read BenLadner.com religiously. I'm talking about the students who go to class, have a job and like to have a good time. You know, real ones.
In search of the real student, I turned to my trusted Buddy List. Somewhere below "College Republicans," "AU Friends" and "Family" I found it: "Real Students."
Scene: The Instant Messenger Conversation.
Question: "Hey, what do you think about the SC Elections this year?"
Response: "Um, they're O.K., TDR in 15?"
Aha! My hunch was correct. They generally don't care. As a hardcore College Republican, I don't condone such apathy toward the voting process. But hey, this isn't your daddy's presidential race. It's student council.
The coverage the campaigns get in this newspaper is testament to the deep interest politically minded students have in the process. And it's really a difference of interests. Some students like school politics, others like partying. And they each criticize each other for their devious ways!
So here it is - the last edition of The Eagle before voting begins. Half the student body will read this column twice, examining every word, looking for that sentence where I subliminally attack one of the candidates. The other half will use it as wrapping paper.
And that, my friends, is what you call apathy. It is the word that keeps political science students up at night. Worse than Freddy Krueger with a chainsaw, apathy waits at your pillow, ready to pounce and kill your favorite political campaign. And it affects politics on all levels.
The presidential race of 1972 was the first year that 18-year-olds were permitted to vote. In that election, 50 percent of 18 year-olds voted. Not bad. Today, that number is down to 30 percent. The academics say there are two reasons why young people do not vote. The first is that young people do not believe the candidates are talking about their issues. The second is that they believe candidates rarely follow through on their promises. They may be right on the latter, but the former is a sorry excuse. You're not going to be 18 forever, and therefore you will be subjected to the harsh world of Social Security I described in my last column. You will pay taxes; you will follow the laws. What about this process does not apply to you as a young person?
Maybe it's the cool factor. Urban Outfitters has a new T-shirt out that says: "Voting is for Old People." The font and colors reek of the retro 1970s, with bold letters and an array of browns and oranges. Urban Outfitters even suggests wearing this shirt with an outdated trucker hat to be extra cool. Now I'm all about the 1970s, but there is something cruelly ironic about this shirt. Basically, you don't want to vote like old people, you just want to dress like they did 30 years ago.
The marketing theme for this T-shirt is as follows: "A re-making of a vintage tee, this print was originally created in the tumultuous political climate of the '70s, drawing attention to the rift between politicians and their platforms and the concerns of young people. Machine Wash. Cotton."
Well, at least Urban Outfitters is socially conscious, right? I'll let you know when they start signing international peace treaties. In the meantime, it is important that we exercise our right to vote. How we went from the SC elections to machine washing T-shirts, I don't know. But be warned: You don't have to be an apathetic voter to be a righteous dude. Vote in the SC elections from Saturday, Feb. 28 through Tuesday, March 2.
Michael Inganamort is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs. He is also vice president of the AU College Republicans and a contributor to www.aurepublicans.blogspot.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org