Oct 022008
 
Authors: Alex Stephens

Let’s see if this resonates with you. You feel that politics has become awash with greed, corruption, special interests.

The people you only see on TV are making decisions that don’t really have any effect on your life.

You might think, “Hey, even if I cared about politics, what I think doesn’t really matter; it won’t change anything.”

Answered yes to any of that? I can’t say I blame you. When two candidates for the presidency sit down to “debate” on TV for the whole world to watch and there’s a “mood-o-meter” at the bottom of the screen, you might think the whole thing’s a big joke perpetrated by the media, and you’d be right.

Here’s the real reason our government is so crummy. This isn’t too shocking — it’s because of you. It’s because of me.

It’s your parents, your friends, your spouse: the American people are responsible for the government they have.

As Alexis de Tocqueville famously put it, “People get the government they deserve.” /

When more people voted for the American Idol candidates in 2004 than for the most powerful position any one man can hold, you’d be stupid to expect a government filled with people that actually had your interests at heart.

The numbers speak volumes: only 25 percent of Americans voted the worst president, of the past century, into office. Twice.

How does that infamous phrase go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on . me? Shame is what we are feeling right now.

Our government is a direct product of how active we, the people, are in it.

When the vast majority of Americans stopped paying attention to what was going on, the “Man” stepped in and started looking out for his own interests, not yours.

Did invading Iraq protect your freedom or take away your freedoms? Will bailing out Wall Street benefit you or will it reward greedy bankers?

Keep in mind the original draft of the Bailout package included nothing to aid struggling homeowners.

It included nothing for you but everything for them.

That’s why it was voted down — Congress does (occasionally) care! You need to start caring about the decisions your government makes.

Yes, your government. You put them there after all, whether you voted for it or not (if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice).

America’s founders 200-plus years ago fought and died for you to be able to have one very precious thing — a say in your own government —— not for you to sit on your rear and be more absorbed with the lives of Hollywood celebrities than your own.

Would you die for the right to vote today?

Ironically, there are people in this world struggling, fighting and dying for their right to vote and have a democratically elected government while some Americans actually forget to vote.

Women, you have worked much harder than the white male for your vote. At one time, some of you sacrificed your lives, and others withstood horrendous police brutality to stand up for something bigger, the vote. It took over two centuries for women to win their American suffrage in 1920.

African Americans, remember what you went through before you were even considered human, much less permitted to vote freely? That was less than 50 years ago.

Your vote, your voice in the world, is truly something to be treasured.

Especially in local politics, your vote really does count.

Crack open your Colorado Blue Book. It describes all the measures on the ballot this year.

Don’t have a blue book? Google “Colorado state assembly,” click the top link, then click “ballot issues” on the left, it’s the fifth link from the top. Take the time to make an informed choice — many important things are on it this year than do affect you, I promise. /

You can spare an hour for your state; the people running it have spared much more for you.

//Freedoms are only as good as how far you’ll go to protect them. Don’t let them be taken away from you.

Always exercise your right to be heard, for when you don’t vote, you’re no better than a slave.

Alex Stephens is a junior political science major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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