Greetings, Mustangs! I have the privilege of representing the liberal perspective in the Mustang Daily this year, a responsibility I carry with pride and honor.
I know people by and large have a certain antipathy for the political process (I believe Congress’ approval rating is somewhere around 16 percent right now). I also know that I’m one of those “weirdos” who enjoys following politics and my goal for this year is to relay at least some of the inherent interest I see in American (and global) politics.
For my first article, though, I’ll refrain from partisan politics and rather explain the derivation of my political viewpoint. One of the main problems I see in the discussion of politics today is that people often treat issues as if they are hermetically sealed, independent of the circumstances that led to certain legislative actions as well as independent of its intended consequences. My aim is to present issues with a reference to the historical circumstances that led to particular actions and present at least some of the mechanics behind it (that’s the science part of political science), for, as the philosopher Hegel adroitly put it, “The concrete present is the result of the past and is pregnant with the future.”
No doubt the treatment of issues as if they existed in a vacuum independent of socio- political circumstances is mostly a result of the polarization in politics that has occurred over the last couple decades. It is much easier to adhere to ideology when events are abstracted from reality, much easier to mold them to fit one’ s worldview. Ideology is supposed to be the theoretical framework from which various solutions are generated, with good ol’ American pragmatism serving as the final arbiter, yet ideology has supplanted pragmatic politics so that the two sides of the aisle can no longer find any common ground between themselves.
My goal is to ignite conversation, to get people of all opinions talking again because only in discussion can there be agreement, and only in agreement can there be true progress.
The only political rant that I will embark upon this week regards the upcoming midterm elections. It has been well documented that midterm elections feature a much lower voter turnout than presidential years. Whether people feel it’ s not as important or are just not as enthused (which seems to be the problem this year), many people decline to head to the polling stations come election day.
Yet, only two years after young adults turned out in record numbers, I fear that some young people have already become disenchanted with the political process and are willing to forgo this opportunity to once again participate in politics. Disenchantment should not turn to apathy, nor even anger like the Tea Party (of which I will have much more to say in the coming weeks), but rather resolution—a desire to improve upon the current state of affairs.
If you think historically, we really are fortunate to be able to participate in our political affairs; for historically people were not citizens but subjects, victim to the whim of whoever happened to be in power – you know, like the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the peasant recognizes the king because “ He’ s the only one who isn’ t covered in shit.” Imagine talking to someone living in Afghanistan under the Taliban and saying, “ Yeah, we can choose our leaders, but I don’ t really care.”
It frustrates me when people think voting is unimportant, like the inane sentiment that ‘ my vote doesn’ t count.’ Sure, if you think of your vote solely as a number to add to one candidate’ s total. But if you think of your vote as one should, as an expression of your beliefs on how the country should be run and what direction you feel the country should be headed, then it would be ludicrous to think of your vote as counting for nothing—unless, of course, you do not value your own beliefs.
Although we are young, many issues already directly or indirectly affect us, especially the deficit, which, if the current generation in power can’ t find a solution, will become our burden, compounded annually of course. I guess all I’ m trying to say is that if you don’ t voice your opinions and your interests, who will do it for you? And if the youth in general doesn’t vote in November, the country will be governed with little interest of those who will have to bear the brunt of decisions made today.
Jeremy Cutcher is a political science junior and the Mustang Daily liberal columnist