With the Minnesota Presidential Primary coming up on Tuesday, March 3, I’m sure that the election is weighing heavy on your minds. Or, that’s what my political science major mind wants to tell myself. In my perfect world, we would all be very interested in elections and politics, and we would all vote in every single election.
But that’s just not the reality of the world. And that’s actually okay. Big shocker coming from me, I know. People like me, or to better word it, people who are interested in things like elections, news and the current social cultural and environmental crisis, have inadvertently created a type of “boys’ club” in politics.
While we often tout that we include everyone in our conversations and engage everyone in politics, that is just not what happens.
On this campus and across the whole country, we end up in a bubble of people who agree us vs. the people who strongly and loudly disagree with us.
What we often don’t consider, and often scorn, is people who just aren’t all that interested in politics. People who aren’t sure who to vote for, or even who is running and what they stand for. People who don’t know how to order an absentee ballot or don’t have a full grasp of any of the issues.
In response to people who aren’t as knowledgeable in the world as them, activists and political scientists and their cohorts hang up voting posters and drive people to the polls. These things are awesome and important, but what we don’t stop to consider is that there are people outside of our bubble that we don’t and can’t reach through the ways we have traditionally reached out to voters.
This is because of the way that we speak about politics and the news both on our campus and in the greater American community. We make it seem like you need to know so much about politics and who is running for office to even vote. We applaud those who vote with our views and shun those who don’t. The way that we speak makes it seem like a daunting task to beginners who aren’t necessarily interested in politics to ever get involved or join the conversation.
And I would contend that this kind of attitude, intentional or not, hinders our ability for our democracy to function properly. When people are intimidated by the act of voting or joining the conversation, when they feel stupid or excluded when walking into political spaces, it prevents them from even trying and even possibly going to the polls. This of course lowers voter turnout, giving a minority of the population a much louder voice than the rest.
So, it’s in the hands of the current members of the political boy’s club to adjust our behavior accordingly. What can we do to better educate people on the current issues and candidates of this presidential election? No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, we can all recognize that this is an important and historic election.
Perhaps short primers could be offered on each candidate and where they each stand on vital and familiar issues.
Even just sharing on your social media accounts about the election and inviting friends, family and colleagues to come to you with any questions would be helpful.
Ask your friends and peers if they plan to vote and engage with them openly and respectfully no matter their answer.
Increasing voter turnout is absolutely vital in every election, but especially in an election as important as this presidential election. I think that no matter who we voted for in 2016, it’s problematic that someone who won the majority of votes across the country still lost the election. Increasing voter turnout could have quite possibly changed the course of that election, which is what would be fair.
So make sure to go out and vote next week! If you aren’t sure who to vote for or how to vote, ask a friend you know is familiar with the topic, and I’m sure that they would be happy to explain the system and the situation to you in an unbiased manner. While politics may seem to be a far-off world that doesn’t concern you or affect your life, its impacts has huge affects on everyone in the country.