The 2008 presidential candidates, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, have reached their goal: Election Day. One of the candidates will be declared the winner and take his place in Washington, D.C., in January 2009.
The nation’s economy has entered a recession, America has spent five years in Iraq and the Constitution has been challenged in the name of national security. But for some students, electing a new leader won’t change much.
Instead of exercising her right to vote, sophomore biology major Elizabeth Ort will avoid the polls.
She said she feels presidential candidates manipulate middle-class Americans to win their votes, and they do not fulfill promises made during their campaigns once elected.
The 30-minute TV ad Obama’s campaign ran last Wednesday night drew an estimated 33 million viewers.
The ad, however, raised a question with Ort.
“If he was really trying to change things, shouldn’t he have just donated the cost it took to produce the commercial instead of putting something before the World Series? I don’t know many regular people who can do that,” Ort said.
The emphasis placed on voting has recently been communicated through short commercial clips that often feature celebrities.
“I don’t like MTV having Pink telling me it doesn’t matter who I vote for, but to just vote,” Ort said. “Telling me to write in Mickey Mouse if I want is ridiculous. Is that how much my vote counts?”
Junior history major Phillip Figueiredo is going to vote, but he is going to do what a few Americans do. He is casting his ballot for a third party candidate.
Figueiredo researched political parties other than the Republican and Democratic parties when Democrats in Congress were not living up to promises they made.
He said third party candidates offer a better future for America. From their policies and ideologies to their defiant refusals of business as usual in Washington, D.C., Figueiredo said he feels candidates such as Chuck Baldwin and Cynthia McKinney are logical alternatives.
“It is time to stop picking the lesser of two evils because in the end you still get an evil,” Figueiredo said.
Zach Friend, press secretary for Pennsylvanians for Obama, said he can find no excuse for those who choose not to vote. Campaigns are the means of getting people elected to govern with favored policies, he said.
“You have a choice to affect the decisions made by our leaders, and you need to decide who will make those decisions,” Friend said.
Nicholas D’Arecca, professor of political science, said politicians have three goals in mind: get elected, earn positions of leadership and pass preferred policies.
Those who don’t vote are only letting others speak for them, he said, and it is the only way ordinary citizens can impact the directions taken by their government.
“It is their minimum civic duty as Americans,” D’Arecca said. “Just because you don’t know anything about politics, don’t let that stop you from voting.”
Greg Adomaitis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.