“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” The proverb is so common in our language you can find it almost anywhere. One can find an application of the thought behind this phrase in almost every area of life. In looking back at the events of last Fall I’ve found another, right here at UM.
Throughout most of 2004 all of campus was abuzz over the preparations for UM’s hosting of the first presidential debate on Sept. 30, 2004. I remember quite vividly the plethora of declarations about how UM and its students would be changed forever, that their excitement and interest in the event was proof positive that UM’s student body was energized about politics, then and in perpetuity.
I said it then and I believe time has borne it out. This campus was excited about the media being here and about the momentary sensationalism that accompanied that and the event itself. But more excited about politics? Ridiculous.
The night before the debate, the president of the Young Democrats and I, in my role as chairman of the College Republicans, were featured in a short interview on Hardball with Chris Matthews shot on the Rock. One of the questions Matthews asked was why UM students weren’t more interested in politics and voting. My answer, “I guess there’s just too much to do in the Grove,” was met by an understandable number of boos, in particular from some annoying camera-hound who wanted to make sure her thoughts made it on camera by yelling, “That’s a terrible thing to say.” She’s right, it is a terrible thing to say, but more because it’s true than because it’s not nice. You appeared to be of greater interest because you liked being on TV or interviewed by the paper, not because you actually gave a crap. Don’t misunderstand me, you do give a crap about some things-like iPods, flip-flops and Mr. Moe’s-but certainly not politics. While it is not all of you, it’s certainly the majority.
To be fair, there are a lot of students who get involved in a variety of different endeavors like Habitat for Humanity, Up ’til Dawn and many others. There are also many who are interested in politics like those in the College Republicans and the Young Democrats and those that are so liberal they couldn’t find anyone to S.T.A.N.D. with. Obviously, they aren’t whom I’m talking about.
I certainly think it’s good to get involved to better yourself and others whether it’s in politics or not. But that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that despite complaining about all the injustices you feel extend from political power, most of you still don’t do more than talk.
And then you go to the Grove.
Scott Wacholtz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.