Why elections matter

Ryan Nickerson, Contributing Writer

American citizens have the choice to live informed or willingly oblivious to the world around them.

Some people are even inclined to think that if they put their heads down, look the other way and only focus on what’s immediately important to them, their life will be okay. And the scary part is, it probably will be.

The freedom to vote for representation on the matters that affect the most people is a freedom that isn’t granted to everyone around the globe.

“Only 40% of the world’s countries hold free and open elections, 24% are only partly free and 36% percent are not free,” said the Freedom House’s 2106 Freedom of the World report.

There are people who live in impoverished countries or under dictator rule that pay close attention to worldly matters, but are effectively powerless in expressing themselves.

American citizens should not take this privilege for granted.

The things that politicians argue about actually have far greater consequences then one would initially think.

“I vote because I understand that there once was a time when we had to fight for it,” said Denzel Cammon, a senior at TSU. “So now, really because it’s right there in front of us, we should take advantage of what is part of our liberties here in America and ultimately effect change locally and on the state level, and not so much just on the national level.”

Matters such as abortion, same sex marriage, affirmative action, prison reform, marijuana legalization, and any topic that are present in today’s media landscape, are all important, and they are all worth having an opinion about.

No matter what that opinion is, it is important to go out and vote to express that opinion.

If one doesn’t, one’s opinions are at risk of being decided for them; a violation of one of the main principles of being a free American citizen.

“Midterm elections are a way for us to express our views on the direction of our nation and State,” said Dr. Michael O’Adams, chair of Political Science at TSU. “Historically, it’s been thought of as a referendum on the President. This is the opportunity we have to have our voices heard. Students and people of color haven’t participated at levels on par with older Anglo voters, and the result has been policies we don’t always agree with. If you want to see the direction of our country change—you have to vote.”

According to the United States Census Bureau, 66.2% of African Americans voted in the 2012 elections, but only 59.4% voted in 2016.

This decline goes against the efforts of African Americans that fought for their right to vote, and because of that fight, HBCUs have an even bigger duty to get students to vote.