Academic journal article Peer Review

Cast off Cynicism and Cast Your Vote

Academic journal article Peer Review

Cast off Cynicism and Cast Your Vote

Article excerpt

I remember my first voting booth: a cardboard refrigerator box in the hallway of Oak Street Elementary school. In the 1972 election between Richard Nixon (R) and George McGovern (D), my sixth-grade class studied the electoral process, ran campaigns for the candidates, and cast our votes in our handmade polling station. At home, my dad (a staunch Republican) and sixteen-year-old brother (a vociferous McGovern supporter) dominated dinner conversation with heated political debate. At age eleven, I didn't have the rhetorical skills to join the conversation, but I knew that on Election Day, I could cast my own vote. That was my first step into the U.S. political process, and, since graduating from college, I've voted regularly, even when the outcome did not yield victory for my chosen candidate. I believe I have a responsibility to participate in the process, to record my vote-even when the political landscape reflects few of my personal values.

As a college professor, I hope students recognize the responsibility and the opportunity a presidential election offers. Campaigning is about articulating and promoting social values and not just about backing the winning candidate. People are important, but issues like education, health care, housing, the environment and military, etc., surpass individual campaign platforms. Although we may feel powerless when the dominant political views do not agree with our own, we all have a stake in these issues on a national and local level. This past spring, traditional-age college students (18-23) staked their claim in the political process by participating in the presidential primaries at record levels. Even my small liberal arts college campus was politically engaged on a new level. CNN anchor Rick Sanchez asked to interview seven Goshen College students for the "League of First Time Voters" series.

Like many university and college campuses, Goshen College benefited from the close Democratic presidential primary race. As the nation focused on Indiana, one of several states that gained importance as the primary competition continued into May, Democratic canvassing resulted in voter registration on campus, a campaign office downtown, glossy flyers in the mail, and repeated candidate visits to northern Indiana. …

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