Opinion

Does anyone know what the hell they voted for?

According to statistics, I am abnormal. I am a student and I voted. However, as I was leaving my polling place, a sobering feeling of disenfranchisement (no pun intended) set in. One thought ran through my mind: “Democracy doesn’t work.”
Let me explain. I consider myself to be fairly well educated, and have read the arcane works of Milton, Chaucer, and others. Yet as I read through the proposed amendments to the Florida state constitution, I was absolutely bewildered.
I had to read the lengthy explanations over and over and over, and I still had trouble making out their exact meaning.
As I drove home, it struck me that I really had no idea what I had just voted for. Who knows, perhaps confused by legal jargon and the importance of “and” instead of “or” I might have voted for the wrong thing. I didn’t recognize any of the names for any office other than governor, and even if I did, I couldn’t tell you whether they were good or bad while in office. Then, I wondered what it must be like for the elderly woman voting next to me who was obviously unacquainted with technology, and the only answer I could come up with was that democracy doesn’t work. Sure we can vote, but hardly anyone knows what they are voting for, so what does it matter?
Of course, the voter can do research, but honestly, where can you go to find unbiased information about what the county judge really did while in office? And then critics wonder why students don’t vote.
Maybe it’s because we as students object to the fact that the voting process is eerily similar to the show “Control Freak” on MTV 2. After all, MTV 2 touts the show as “democracy in action.” They say that you have control of what videos you watch because you can vote. But in actuality, you only have three choices, two of which you usually don’t want to see, and one of which you know will not win.
Now, doesn’t that sound a lot like our government? Think about the last presidential elections. Al Gore was roughly the equivalent of N’Sync, and George W. Bush was roughly Ricky Martin. Nobody wants to see either of them, but if you were to vote for the third video (which would be something incredibly obscure), you would be throwing your vote away.
Just one word of caution. Yes, it does seem like our votes don’t matter, but when we get lazy and adopt the “voting is pointless” attitude, we end up with the current government. We see corrupt politicians like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld slip into office unnoticed and begin, as they have, to take the country in some dangerous directions. And that is a terribly frightening reality.
Travis Atria is a junior majoring in English Literature.

November 8, 2002

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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