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Apathy is hardly an excuse

Illustration by Arnie Bermudez
By Brett Berry
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
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It's that time once again. It's that pesky and obligatory custom that comes every four years and assures us of the continuing function of the little experiment we like to call American democracy. Yes, that's right: It's yet another presidential election year.

Now I know it seems like we just had the last election. Remember that whole fiasco in Florida with all the dimpled chads, the recounts and the images of the elderly residents of Palm Beach County endlessly staring through the lens of a magnifying class at the countless numbers of butterfly ballots? Of course, there's been plenty to take our minds off politics in recent years. We've had wars, terror attacks, recalls, tuition hikes and reality television to keep us thoroughly occupied in the time since one of the most heavily contested presidential elections of all time.

However, the time has come for us to fulfill our responsibility to inform ourselves of our options and to follow through by voting. There is no excuse. Each and every one of us must register to vote, get informed and vote come November. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civics and Engagement, in the 2000 election, the young voters in America (18- to 24-year-olds) were terribly underrepresented. Only 32.3 percent of our age group voted, as opposed to 54.7 percent of the entire population (which is still much too low). We as citizens, and especially as students, must take much more seriously our responsibility to vote if we want a promising future.

Brett Berry

I can already hear many of you trying to come up with an excuse not to vote. You may think you don't have time to keep up with all the news and issues, think your vote really doesn't matter all that much, or think all the candidates are just a bunch of rich guys bickering like children instead of representing you. But do not cop out with these lame excuses. Do not voluntarily surrender the right that helped found our government - that men for generations have fought and died to create and protect.

Do not claim that your ignorance of the political world is rooted in your lack of free time. That's nonsense. There are plenty of hours in the day to complete all your required tasks and duties, as well as read a newspaper or two, or watch a news program that doesn't focus on celebrity trials or asinine stories like the annual steeplechase of wiener dogs in Sheboygan, Wis. It doesn't take that long to get informed.

Watch a real news program or listen to NPR (but please avoid taking comments from TV personalities like Bill O'Reilly as fact) to learn the candidates' stances on the issues facing us. Do not succumb to the media's tendency to condense entire debates and speeches into 4-second sound bites. Really try to sift through the information to arrive at what you believe is the truth, and then act on that with your ballot.

I will grant you that a single vote alone rarely is significant. However, a single vote combined with millions of other votes can do amazing things; it can change the world. Do not complain about the state of the nation or the world if you are not willing to try to fix the problems.

Our votes can reshape the world. Remember that old saying, "The world is what we make of it"? It's true. We can either strive to fix the wrongs in the world, or we can lie back and allow for greedy politicians to pursue their own agenda at our expense. Voting is the only strength the masses have to fight against tyranny and greed. As Ralph Nader has said, "Turn yourself on to politics, or politics will turn on you."

Brett Berry is a regional development sophomore.

He can be reached at

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