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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Admit it: You care about your world

    Lillie Kilburncolumnist
    Lillie Kilburn

    You’ve just had a long and exciting weekend, and you’re finding yourself sitting in class again. The monotone and meaningless lecture is washing pleasantly around your ears, your eyes are slowly drooping shut and you’re thinking that you really don’t give a damn about whatever your professor is waxing lyrical on today.

    That’s what apathy is. Apathy is not caring.

    There are 479 undergrads at the UA who list their political views on as “”apathetic,”” and even more who claim apathy in casual conversation across campus. I have to ask them: Do you really not care at all about your government?

    Now, I can understand how someone would want to throw up his or her hands and walk out on the political process. The two-party system provides only an either/or choice about government, leaving those who’d prefer to choose option “”C”” out in the cold. Decisions seem to be influenced by currents of money and power and commerce that are invisible and mysterious to the uninitiated. In a nation that has around 200 million citizens of voting age, it’s not hard to feel insignificant. It’s easy just to say “”forget it.””

    Yet disillusionment and ignorance are still not the same thing as apathy. I spoke to some of those 479 “”apathetic”” students I found on Facebook. Several admitted to being “”not very informed,”” – “”People in this country have no clue what the issues are,”” said one – but they all held opinions about the government and politics.

    No one better represented the disillusioned than one student who said, “”Recently I’ve been siding more with the left, after learning about the large tax breaks for the wealthy and the large corporations,”” and then added, “”I am actually a registered Republican, so you can kind of see my disappointment.””

    In fact, none of the “”apathetic”” students I spoke to truly was apathetic. Every one of them had complaints about some aspect of government. Just like most people who claim to be apathetic, these students still care, but they have given up trying.

    This is not excusable.

    Apathy is one thing, but giving up on your country just doesn’t make sense. Would you let someone else pick your clothes or your classes or your car? Then why, apathetic people, would you let someone else pick your government?

    So, the system seems corrupt and immovable, as if political decisions, fueled by obscure and unsavory energies, are steaming ahead on tracks that have already been laid. That’s no reason to give up. This is not a police state, and it’s not a dictatorship. We all still have votes and means of making a difference.

    So, the two-party system can’t hope to encapsulate what you really believe in, and you think voting for a third party is wasting your vote. That’s no reason to give up either. First of all, over 25 percent of voters in Arizona are registered as “”independent”” or “”other party,”” and we have open primaries in which independents can vote in the Republican or Democratic primary. In Arizona, 0.68 percent of voters are registered Libertarian. Imagine how much more that could be if everyone eligible in Arizona registered to vote. But even if there were no other parties at all, you would still have the choice of “”A”” or “”B,”” and neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic one is as fixed in meaning as a letter of the alphabet. Parties are fluid, and it’s normal people – like you and me – who control their change.

    So deal with it. Join a party, and then try to make it better. Someone ought to.

    So, you feel like your vote doesn’t matter, that there have been four presidents so far who have lost the popular vote. Well, vote in other places. Vote in the Associated Students of the University of Arizona elections. Vote in local elections. Vote everywhere you can. If the best possible people were in positions of even slight power, it would make a difference.

    Whatever your reason is for losing faith in the electoral process, you are not apathetic.

    The deadline to register to vote in the upcoming general election is Oct. 9. If you truly don’t care – if you could see five-headed aliens come into office and not care – then don’t register, because that is apathy. Otherwise, you know what to do.

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