Lack of Political Awareness Plagues College-Age Voters

By CALVIN SHERWOOD

Last week, Karl Rove came to our campus amid much fanfare and controversy, and spoke at the Fredericksburg Forum on what he considered some of America’s toughest challenges. Since I haven’t scrounged up enough money to pay for a ghostwriter to write this column for me, I decided to attend it so I could at least be present at the most politically relevant event on campus this semester.
Rove is undoubtedly a wily politician and, since he’s one of the most astute contemporary political advisors, it was interesting to listen to him speak. The most telling part of the whole situation, however, was the general lack of students. Except for the militant few who were protesting the event outside or orchestrating and ushering it inside, most students appeared blissfully unaware of what was happening on campus.
Other than that, I was entirely surrounded by folks who probably still had “I LIKE IKE” bumper stickers on their cars.
Some of the most enthusiastic protesters were not students. Where were all the liberal students on campus who really hate Rove?
This lack of awareness should not be surprising. It is fairly common for college students in general to be isolated from the outside world, something in which University of Mary Washington students tend to excel.
Granted, there are worse things in life than politically carefree students, but we live in a society that elects its leaders. That means it would be really nice if these darn young people knew what they were doing when they voted!
Ideally, we want educated voters to elect leaders after considering the pros and cons of each side. Since life is more than a little complicated, and most people don’t have time for that, what we really have are very reactionary people who are much better at telling us what they dislike than what voting policies they wish to initiate.
To risk sounding like one of our many politicians campaigning for candidacy, our country deserves better than that; we deserve better than this one-step-too-late punishment approach to electing people.
The best solution, therefore, is for people to get more exposure to politics.  Practice makes perfect, so anything people can do while they are young to garner more knowledge on the matter will make them better for it.
Whether it is attending a lecture, protesting something, reading an issue of the Economist or just listening to a radio talk show that’s not Rush Limbaugh, active involvement in understanding our political scene is something that should start at college.

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1 Comment

  1. anonymous says:

    “Oh boy, an article about the Karl Rove protest and/or speech,” I thought as I clicked on the link, “and it’s written by Calvin Sherwood! Preparing to rage in 3…2…1…”

    …and then I read the article. And I have to say that I am quite surprised: I actually agree with most of it – nay all of it! We do suffer from youth apathy here (and nationwide) and it is truly shameful.

    Great article, Mr. Sherwood!

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