Who Is Really To Blame for Voter Apathy?

Who Is Really To Blame for Voter Apathy?

Apathy is an inevitable part of life.
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I have many reasonable excuses as to why I won’t be voting in the New York primaries on April 19th. The first excuse: there are other things I would rather be doing on my birthday. The second, and the most important: I just don’t care. I have been asked more than five times in the past two weeks who I’ll “be supporting,” and have responded with a variation of, “I don’t know, I live on the outskirts of modern society,” every single time. I admit, I use this phrase too often, but in this particular case it is a great example of the fact that voter apathy is very much alive.

As much fun as it is to blame the government for all our problems, the bureaucrats are not completely responsible. It is more society and it's beliefs that everyone’s opinion matters that has caused this phenomenon. There are roughly seven months before the November elections and it’s now official, there is nowhere left to hide. It is impossible to turn on the television without seeing coverage of the presidential candidates. Even worse, it is impossible to check social media without being virtually suffocated with someone's political opinion. Remember how it’s said that one shouldn’t discuss politics at the dinner table? I’d like everyone to pretend that the world is their dinner table.

In essence, voting is something that should be valued. People have given their lives in order for us to be able to hypothetically take the fate of our country into our own hands, yet there is something about being practically smacked in the face by the opinions of ignorant, and often naive, “political activists” that makes voting so unappealing. Actually, it is also the fact that I am expected to have an opinion that makes me absolutely not want to have an opinion. Everywhere I turn there is someone saying that “this is right” and “that is wrong,” completely convinced that their word is bond. If these people would, at anytime, like to take a giant step down from their high horse, I’d be happy to explain that shoving political beliefs down someone’s throat can only backfire. Although the law deems us adults at 18 years old, we are essentially still children, and what happens when you tell a child they should do something? They do the exact opposite. Telling young voters that they are obligated to vote only results in increased voter apathy and a desire to go against social norms.

This being said, I do a very good job at avoiding all things related to politics. Though I frequently check social media and my mother insists on playing NPR every morning, I have managed to absorb very little about the upcoming election. This is what I do know: Donald Trump is a bigot, Hillary Clinton is inconsistent, Bernie Sanders is a socialist and Ted Cruz, well, Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer.
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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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10 Microaggressions That I'm Completely Over You Saying

No, you're not being sensitive, that was actually kinda rude.

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I have always noticed little phrases that make me tick a little bit. You know, the ones that make you tilt your head a bit and think "Did they really mean that, like I think they meant that?" but then you just brush it off. However, the other day I was having a conversation with my best guy friend. He was explaining to me a funny story involving his older brother and at one point I said "I relate" to which he responded, "it's different for girls."

Wait, what?

Here are some subtle, everyday micro-aggressions that are getting a little old:

1. "You don't get it, it's different for boys."

Honestly, you're right. It is different, and that's why this comment bothers me, because it shouldn't be different for guys. We should be held to the same exact standards and experiences.

2. "Is it like... that time of the month?"

What if it is? That shouldn't be any of your concern. You mean to tell me you wouldn't be a happy-go-lucky ray of sunshine if it felt like there were jackknives playing hopscotch in your uterus? That's what I thought.

3. "Don't be such a girl."

That's exactly what I'm going to be. Partially because I am a girl, and partially because whatever it is you're trying to force me to do, I genuinely don't want to do. Leave me alone.

4. "Lol am I totally being friend zoned right now?"

Hahahahaha... yes. Just because you're a boy, I'm a girl and we have struck up a conversation does not mean there are butterflies going crazy in my stomach, nor will I reconsider my "friendship" status simply because you have verbally stated it. Sorry, not sorry.

5. "Are you sure you want to wear that?"

Oh, this? You mean the article of clothing I purposely picked out of my closet and have put on my body and not taken off? No, I'm actually not sure if I want to wear it yet. I'll let you know at the end of the night.

6. "Why don't you smile more? You're cuter when you smile."

And you're cuter when your mouth is shut and you're not telling me what to do. Also, I always look cute.

7. "You're being dramatic, it's not that deep."

Fun fact: It's actually as deep as I want it to be. Everything you say is up for my interpretation. I don't know how you're thinking or how you want me to process what you're saying... so if I think it's that deep, it's that deep.

8. "Well, you do this better than I do anyway."

First of all, you're most likely not even trying. Second, I don't know what I'm doing half the time and I asked you to do it for a reason. So, just do it.

9. "How could you possibly not want children?"

By not wanting them. See? That was easy to understand.

10. "There's no way you guys are 'just friends'."

There actually is a way. By being friends. The same way you're just friends with your bros and with that girl in your math class that sends you the notes. Friendship is very much possible.

* * *

To be completely honest, I've said some of these phrases. Some of them even to men. Every day I try to stop myself, even if it's mid-conversation, from saying phrases like such because every little step is another one towards a society that doesn't need to demean one gender in order to be "funny" or "relatable."

I don't expect there to be a magical day in the future where none of these phrases are spoken, but the less they're heard, the better.

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