Voting really is important

Osawatomie native reflects on Obama’s speech

People camped outside theaters hoping to get the best seat when the new “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” movies premiered.

Every Thanksgiving, shoppers abandon families to wait for stores to open on Black Friday.

When President Barack Obama came to Osawatomie Dec. 6, it wasn’t any different. People young and old faced a cold December night in hopes of being one of the lucky ones who received a ticket to his speech.

And it is good. It’s a good thing people care about what our president has to say.

It is good that people are trying to educate themselves on what Obama as a democratic candidate has to say, especially with the 2012 presidential election right around the corner.

It is also good that in the 2008 election, with the help of the Rock the Vote campaign, more young people voted.

The push by Rock the Vote was for two things, get registered and vote. Constant public service announcements by celebrities told young adults to vote. Artists and actors popped up on television channels such as MTV and Comedy Central and told college students they could make a difference in their country. They told young adults to change the future of their country.

And young Americans listened. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE, youth voter turnout, which is ages 18-29, rose by 2 percentage points to 51 percent.

Something that wasn’t pushed as hard by PSAs was getting educated before voting.

The youth of America is constantly lectured on caring about politicians and being the change they wish to see, but what if the youth don’t know what politician to vote for or what changes they want our new president or governor or mayor to make?

What good is a voter if he or she isn’t well informed of the political candidates’ ideas and what they stand for?

How can we tell the youth of America to register and vote and make a difference if some voters are just voting for a political party rather than the issues surrounding the election?

We shouldn’t. We should tell them get educated or don’t vote.

Being a part of the election process is important. A vote can determine the future for millions of people. It can determine whether abortion is legal or not. It can determine whether two people of the same sex can get married. It can determine the raise or cut in funding for programs.

If a voter isn’t well informed on the issues surrounding any political race, whether it is for U.S. President or Mayor, how are they positively contributing to the political process?

They aren’t. They are negatively contributing by not making an informed decision.

Many people think casting a vote is important and that by voting they are doing their country a favor, but they are wrong. Casting an educated vote is important, and by doing the opposite, Americans are doing their country a disservice.

So when it is time for young Americans to hit the voting polls, they need to do their homework first. I don’t mean their math homework or the essay they procrastinated on. I mean watching the debates, reading what politicians have to say and making an informed decision when Election Day comes.