Our campus seems to have shut down this past week. After all the positive stress, adrenaline rushes and excitement from debate week, everything else in the University seems boring in comparison – even if it’s not. Regrettably, UM now appears sleepy and empty.
As much as the University has been promoting political involvement on campus, interest in politics appears to have vanished in our post-debate universe. We have forgotten that our debate was the first of three presidential encounters, plus a fourth vice-presidential showdown. We may have eagerly watched these debates, as we mentioned last week, but there was little long-term buzz on campus surrounding them.
The debate we hosted was – or should have been – the beginning of a stimulating last month of campaigning. Instead, it feels like it was the end of it. We’re almost back to our apolitical South Beach-and-football existence.
Granted, we needed time to rest after the debate partying and to catch up on the class work missed while attending debate events, but this is not an excuse for losing the energy on our campus. Where have the College Republicans and Democrats been these past few days? Besides some members handing out a few buttons and bumper stickers, and the Council for Democracy selling “Voters are Sexy” T-shirts, the UC Breezeway was ominously vacant last week. This is uncharacteristic for any moment of the school year, but it’s particularly shocking after the Breezeway had been the main hub of activity during the debate.
Election season is not over yet. The presidential race is tighter than ever, particularly in unpredictable swing states like Florida. Rather than shy away from politics, we should be intently following the news and the campaigns until Nov. 2. Furthermore, we should be getting informed about the important (and often overlooked) races for the Senate and House, as well as the issues that will also be on the ballot on Election Day.
Elections drive a democracy. We are privileged to have a democracy where the system generally works quite smoothly, where we trust our institutions and where we can make informed decisions about whom we elect to office. In other countries, citizens must stand in lines in the sweltering heat for four or eight hours in order to vote, only to find that there was corruption in the election, and often to lose their democracy to a less-than-democratic ruler. Just this Saturday, Afghanistan held its first presidential election amid rumors of fraud when 14 of the 15 opposition candidates withdrew from the ballot in the middle of Election Day.
We take our relatively well-functioning system for granted, and we do a disservice to our democracy by tuning out of politics in these last crucial weeks before the election. We must keep up the momentum we gained by hosting the first presidential debate. What a better way to start than by voting in the Student Government Senate elections this week?