Kane: Political Apathy: your chance to change



Jonas Kane

Politics just isn’t cool.

Enthusiasts can chalk pavement with pleas to “Google Ron Paul,” but students will only look slightly baffled at the minor aberrations in scenery. When they get back to their dorms, the idea to Google Ron Paul might be fresh in their minds, but probably not. More likely, the pressing need to check for Facebook or PerezHilton.com updates will occur to them, and poor Paul will be a mere afterthought waiting to be washed away by a good rain (or covered by an impending snow).

A revealing poll recently conducted by NYU’s student newspaper exemplifies the lack of importance students place on voting. Half of those polled responded that they would relinquish their right to vote – forever – for a million dollars. Twenty percent would sell their vote in the next election for an iPod Touch.

Is it any wonder, though, that our generation is disinterested in politics – and not even just disillusioned with politics, but now unconcerned in a completely blasé way, seeing it as wholly trivial – when in recent elections politicians have done nothing to inspire people to become involved?

In recent years, candidates have been reduced to simple sound bites, trying to perfect a trite, hollow message that will appeal strictly to the portion of the populace prone to vote for members of that particular political party anyway.

Or when all else fails, incumbents and presumptive frontrunners resort to cheap and vile attacks designed to repel potential newcomers from joining the process, leaving only the diehards to vote and ensuring victory.

With all that in mind, we nonetheless find ourselves in the midst of a still potentially engaging and relevant event in politics: the primary. This is the point in the election when there are still people running for office who will stand up and say what they believe. It’s the time when the field has not yet been narrowed to two suits so doctored up by consultants that they appear more like robots than humans.

There is a reason that a little excitement has built around Ron Paul: his unconventional willingness to actually speak his mind on the issues. Although some of his views are rather eccentric, they are a welcome change from the typical would-be-funny-if-they-were-not-so-frightening views of his calculating and manipulative neoconservative opponents.

On the other side of the aisle, voters can also find two leading candidates willing to stand up and say what they believe, two candidates with a drive and a will to actually change the horrible system that has developed in modern politics.

With only a month left until voting begins for the primaries, however, little time remains for candidates’ messages to be heard. And this message depends on new (especially young) voters taking time out of their lives to lend an ear and hear what they have to say.

It’s understandable, though, that most people still do not care about politics. Politicians have let us down so many times in the past that a culture of apathy has slowly spread through the last few generations, leaving people so worn down and disheartened with the system that it is simply easier and less painful to ignore it and focus only on their own lives.

But solipsism is not the answer. You can delude yourself into thinking there is no choice, that it will not make a difference whether or not you choose to be involved in the process. And maybe you’re right – maybe in the short term it won’t affect your life.

But it will affect the lives of others in this country and throughout the world, and it will certainly affect the lives of your children. They are the ones who will be left to deal with the damage we will leave behind.

Just don’t pretend that you don’t have a chance to change that now.


Jonas Kane is a sophomore English major from Harrisburg, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]