Editorial: Apathy is the Enemy




The United States has a dismal voter turnout of 53 percent. Millennial turnout is even worse.



Your vote doesn’t count.

You don’t like either of the candidates.

You don’t feel like you’re educated enough on the issues at stake.

Those aren’t valid reasons not to vote. 

Those reasons are why you should vote.

You need to muster up enough will to educate yourself on the issues at stake.

You need to choose based on policy decisions you agree with the most.

Your vote does count.

So vote.

The United States has a poor, if not dismal, voter turnout of 53 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. Millennial voter turnout is even worse at 46 percent of people voting during the 2012 election.

We, at The Collegian, believe people have taken their right to vote for granted. They’ve become numb to what impact they can have. Those who don’t vote for these reasons are letting apathy take over. They’re the ones who are ruining this election — not Democrats or Republicans, but the ones who say they don’t care. 

Apathy is the enemy.

No one has the ability to change the election with just one vote. We’re not a direct democracy. But when there are masses of people choosing not to vote for exactly that reason, that changes the election.

We, at The Collegian, don’t know when this seed was planted, but the idea that a person’s vote doesn’t matter because it doesn’t have a noticeable impact has grown into an uncontrollable weed that affects our elections.

You’re a cotton-headed-ninny-muggins if you don’t vote.

Americans have romanticized their vote too much. People start to give too much weight to their own personal beliefs, rather than the policy impact for the future of the United States.

The people who choose not to vote because they will only vote for someone they completely agree with are the people who overly romanticize their vote.

Yes, we are talking about the “Bernie or Bust” people.

Deciding not to vote is like stomping on the American flag. So many people in the history of the United States have fought for their right to vote. But 53 percent of Americans don’t care about that hard-fought right.

For women, voting is not their First Amendment right — it’s their 19th Amendment.

For African Americans, it’s their 15th Amendment right.

For Native Americans, they didn’t even get an Amendment to vote. They got the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.

It makes absolutely no sense to care about politics so much then decide to throw a vote away simply because you don’t like either major party candidate.

We know they’re not perfect, but you are acting like a child throwing a temper tantrum. You are the toddler intentionally spilling their own milk and crying about it.

Specifically with our generation, the Millennial generation, we’re blindly optimistic that everything will turn out alright, even when we don’t vote.

Two-thirds of South Dakota Millennials aren’t registered to vote. Almost half of American Millennials aren’t registered to vote.

We’ve been babied growing up. Our parents were helicopter parents and made all our decisions for us. Because we grew up like that, we don’t know how to make our own decisions, such as voting, and are scared of “adulting.” So what do we do? We don’t vote.

It’ll work itself out then, we think. Because for our entire lives, our parents have managed to make everything work out for us. Despite our lack of enthusiasm in taking part in our civic duty, almost half of Millennials believe the best years are still in the future. Without even taking action, Millennials believe the future is bright and optimistic. Yeah, right.

But we, at The Collegian, understand why you’re disenchanted with this election.

In part, it’s because of the social media effect.

The only way many Millennials get news is through social media. When we’re on social media, that’s where headlines are going to pop up, and that’s where we’re going to hear about candidates. We’re not going to sit in front of a TV for half an hour or pick up a newspaper, we’re just going to get that information from our Facebook newsfeed.

That’s the main problem, though. You’re not getting the objective, unbiased reporting you would get in a newspaper or on TV. Instead, you’re getting the opinionated versions from your friends and family about which candidates they do or don’t support. Instead of getting to know the candidates, people bicker back and forth on your newsfeed about why one candidate is worse than the other.

That’s disheartening. That’s disappointing. Who would want to vote when all they see is how bad each candidate is?

Social media skews the news. Users don’t get to see how each candidate stands on different issues. People become apathetic when all they see is mudslinging. That’s not what you want to see in our country’s leader. That’s not what you want your first vote to count toward.

It’s even worse when you start to see your friends share drinking games about the debates.

The presidential election is nothing more than entertainment to many people at this point. That’s not right. We, at The Collegian, understand how someone can become apathetic, but that is the time to fight back.

When you do become apathetic and don’t vote, that’s when Brexit happens.

Look to Britain to see how disenfranchised voters can ruin a country. The Brexit decision destroyed the British economy, and will eventually impact people on a global scale.

We can’t fathom that in the United States, let alone Millennials who don’t know much about current world events.

It wasn’t the people who voted to leave the European Union that decided Brexit. It was the people who didn’t vote. In particular, it was the Millennials who didn’t vote.

That may just be the same situation in this year’s election.

So vote. Registering to vote only takes two minutes or less. You missed your chance in South Dakota, but for future elections, make sure to register.

Make it a habit to vote in all elections. Become politically active at the local and state levels.

Some ways to get more people to vote, though, include having a rolling deadline for registration, like Minnesota. This makes it so people can register to vote up until election day.

People need to become more educated as well. But it can’t be saying the same thing they’ve heard since they were in elementary school.

Explaining why people should vote should be advertised in a different way. Millennials have become immune to paper advertisements and the like. Find a way to market this to Millennials, otherwise we’re not going to buy into it.

We can’t make people care, though. As much as we tell someone to vote, this is an individual decision. They have to have the will to research the issues and step into that voting booth. It’s their decision.

People around the world envy Americans’ ability to have this type of influence on their government. International students attending South Dakota State are living here for the foreseeable future, but have no say in what will happen.

Just remember, this is not a right relative to the rest of the world. It is a privilege.

You are privileged to be in the “land of opportunity.” Be patriotic and feel good about making that decision — vote.


Apathy is the enemy.