High school student
Essay themes: Better, cleaner campaigns
TARA J. HILL
Essay themes: Better, cleaner campaigns
You know believe it or not I've actually been asked this question
before. Being a recent graduate of a senior required American
Government class and an aspiring law student, not to mention
I'm a young person, I think I've got this one nailed. I'm sure
the big-wigs in Washington would like to hear a single-policy
solution or some magic bullet theory that could simply pull
the voter turn out up and get them the electorate that they
feel they, and the American Democracy deserve. However, it's
not quite that simple. The beauty of American government is
that it's based on a free system. We, the collective voting
populous, can go to the polls if we chose to and can in turn
vote for any candidate that we see fit to vote for. I think,
and this is just my wacky brain doing a little creative work
here, if you want to know the true circumstances for voter fallout
then you can't just ask me or ask for an essay from a hundred
kids. If the true aim is to understand the problem, then you
must use the true essence of democracy and hit the streets.
This is a problem that no Washington National study can fix,
and that no panel of experts can begin to predict. I think that
it's time to revive the old Whistle Stop campaigning of the
Truman v. Dewey days. The real height for American politics
and politicians shouldn't be the televised debate or the countless
hours of lobbying their way to success it should be the people.
I think you had so much better turn out in those days because
candidates weren't afraid to interact, the people got to know
them better. A more personal setting, not some televised debate
where the color of his suit or the part of his hair could turn
you away. It was truly on the premise "May the best man win."
Yes, I do agree that ballot fatigue and poor political efficacy
are part of it but I don't think you can contribute any of these
things to the populous. Einstein once said, "To understand a
problem you must first understand the roots." If you want to
understand this problem you must look at it from the inside
out. You're biggest blocker is the media. I don't know how many
times I've turned on the TV and heard, "Vote for So-and-so because
he didn't cheat on his taxes unlike some other candidate." Frankly,
I can't think of a bigger way to turn me away from an election.
If you want me to vote for you don't tell me why the other guy
is bad, tell me why you're good. Give me your platform, lay
it all out on the table for me and I'll tell you who the best
man for the job is. Political propoganda has become such a problem
as of late that I just turn the channel whenever a political/election
commercial is on. It's not about the Democrats or the Republicans
or the Independents or the Green Party members or whomever you
wish to vote for anymore, it's all about Benjamin Franklin.
Who's got more money to slander the other. Until they've jumbled
the whole thing into a democratic gumbo and the only thing you've
got left to vote on is which candidate got hit with less. I
know it's the medias right to cover, but maybe there could be
restrictions on campaign advertisements. No slanderous remarks,
only allowing them to talk about themselves, I think this is
your major reform. Get them to quite battling about who has
Essay themes: Better information; voting age, and accessibility of voting
I personally am not a voter. The reason I am not a voter is because I have never felt well-enough informed about the candidates to make a decision on who would be best for this country. I think a required debate between all candidates for office would be a good idea, but who is to say I am going to sit down and watch a four hour long debate of guys trying to take cheap shots at each other. I know how important it is to pick a sound person to lead our country, but being a very busy college student I do not think a debate is necessarily the answer. Somehow the young people need to be informed on the candidates and the answer may be as simple as having a nonbiased person do background checks on each candidate and make pamphlets on each to inform us of their good and bad characteristics, deeds and their stands on issues. The hard part of this idea is finding the nonbiased person to write these pamphlets, but I really believe that if something was sent out to everyone's home that described each candidate, that wasn't done by the candidates supporters, the public would read them and may be better informed.
I think that lowering the voting age would not help anything. Not too long ago I was under 18, but I think that I am 10 times more mature now than I was just a couple years ago. I think that the age is perfect, because the voting starts when kids are starting to go out on their own and realizing that they need a say in what is going on. Taxes, laws and issues are really only beginning to become important to people that are 18. Lowering the voting age would only give a greater number of people able to vote, not a more informed, more interested public.
As a college student and soon to be part of the working class I would love to have Election Day a holiday, but to use a holiday to go down to city hall to vote is a pretty good stretch. People would use this holiday, as just that, a holiday to get away from work or school. If you could find a way to let employers know if their employee actually voted or the school know that the student actually voted then the holiday idea might work. This could decide whether the employee gets paid-time off or not. Having a voting holiday still brings the problem of the informed voter. People can always just make a stop off and quick fill in some circles and have the rest of the day to lounge or get some personal stuff done, making the voting an even bigger problem because at least now the people that vote actually want to vote and care about what they are voting on. If this voting holiday is a real choice, I would suggest having something to help inform the public better to go along with it, such as the pamphlet idea or the required debate.
Internet voting is a great idea, because most of the homes in America have a computer and are connected. People would not even have to go out of the security of their own home. Many things have been done over the Internet and have been a success. We even do our test on the Internet, now how easy can we make being a teacher. The ballots can be counted right from the computer. Something interesting to have is a count that could be given after a person has voted to see how their candidate is doing so far, from the total of the people who voted over the Internet. I know there are probably some problems that could arise from having Internet voting, such as security and fraud, but you would hope that something so easy for the public could be made to work.
What ever is done, one must remember you can not reach everyone! There are people that just do not care who leads their city, state, or country, and those are usually the people who complain about who is in office. They do not care who is in office until the person does something that effects them. Too bad they can not realize this on voting day. If you can better inform me, I too will vote, but I do not want to make an uninformed decision, the same as I do with any decision I make in my life. I think that there are other people like me out there and we can be reached!
Essay themes: required debates; youth sessions with candidates; proportional representation
Political participation by young people is plummeting. Changes in our electoral system would increase political participation by young people. The United States has a very low voter turnout when compared with other nations. Thomas Jefferson wrote in his twilight years that, "Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more advanced, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times." As the United States of America advances into the twentieth century are we keeping pace with the times of changing young voters? Many young people do not feel so. All they feel is apathy towards voting and the government of the United States. What can be done to increase political participation by young voters? The government needs to get the young people involved.
Required debates between all candidates would be a good start. As a voter myself I want to be able to get to know the candidate. I would like to know what each candidate stands for and his or her ideas on government. Many times all we see is a candidate on television proclaiming what the other candidate has done wrong in the past or is trying to bring down the other candidates ideals. The young voters are not interested in what the other candidate supposedly did wrong, we are interested in how he or she is going to make the United States a better place to live and how he or she feels on certain issues. That is why a required debate between all candidates would be a good idea. Let the young voters also have a question and answer session where they are able to really get to know the candidates. Make the young voters feel as though we are involved and our opinions matter. The young voters want to know that their vote counts.
How can the government let the young voters know that their vote will amount to something? By proportional representation - a fundamental structured reform that would make American elections more fair, provide voters with more meaningful choices, and produce legislatures that are more truly representative of the public. In contrast, the plurality system that the United States currently has is designed to insure representation only for the majority of the voters. Only those who vote for the winning candidate get any representation in this system. Everyone else is considered losers who do not merit representation. Their vote is worthless because it cannot serve to elect anyone to represent them. Under the plurality rules you have the right to vote, but not the right to be represented. Maybe that is why many young voters do not vote. We feel as though our candidate has no chance of winning, so why vote? If the government were to chose a better alternative such as proportional representation many young voters would go to the polls on election day. Proportional representation is designed to insure that all voters are able to elect their own representatives, and to guarantee that all city, state, and federal legislatures accurately reflect the variety and strength of the political perspectives. For example, in a ten-seat district, a party winning 60% of the votes receives six of the ten district seats, a party winning 20% wins two seats and so on. As a result, there are few votes wasted in the proportional elections, and even those in the minority are able to win their fair share of seats and to have a choice in the government. We would see elections become much more democratic. Tens of millions of Americans would no longer be wasting their votes. We would no longer be coming from the polling place with nothing to show for our efforts. Instead, 80 to 90% would have someone to represent them in the legislature, in contrast to the 50 to 60% that is now common in our plurality system.
For the first time we, as young voters, would finally have some real choices at the polls and not merely a choice between the lesser of the two evils. Political campaigns would be re-invigorated, with a variety of candidates expressing different ideologies and offering different analyses of our pressing problems. The young voters of the United States of America are the future. It is important that we realize soon it will be our turn to run for office. Now is not the time to step back and feel apathy towards the government. As young voters we need to make our voices heard and feel that it is important to vote on Election Day. As young voters we need to step forward and state how we feel in the voting process.
Essay themes: education, advertising/publication
Young voters today are disenchanted with the whole political process and in many cases this is true. Voters, not just young ones, agree that after the circus that has centered around the White House in the past few years that politics is not something that they find interesting anymore; blatantly they don't feel their opinion, their vote, counts in the overall political big picture. This is a terrible loss to our country since the United States of America was founded on the theory that it was the voice of the common man that meant the most. This concept was important since the common man was the one affected the most by governmental regulation. Without that voice our government could run unchecked and could take advantage of the people that are suppose to be running it. People need to start becoming part of the governmental process early if they are going to retain their ability to run their future government. If new reforms and electoral rules are to be developed to improve young voter turnout, the voice of each voter is one of the basic areas that must be addressed.
These reforms should include education and publication that every vote counts and that is how you can make changes to the way the country operates. The opinion that if you don't vote you don't have the right to comment on the current state of our country if you didn't take your chance to improve it by making your voice heard. People today within the disenchanted population would probably be brought back into the process of democracy and government if candidates, nationally and locally, were honest with the public. As was shown by the 1998 Minnesota election of Governor Ventura, more people voted in Minnesota than had in years and this was attributed to the type of candidate that was running, it also showed that a candidate didn't have to be backed by a major political party to win. Governor Ventura offered the voters of Minnesota a different candidate, one that stated what he believed in whether or not it was the popular view at the time. He did not pander to a specific group of people. His campaign excited the voters; it made them feel that they had a voice again.
The reality that it is our right and privilege as American
citizens to vote on what you believe is right is something that
needs to be introduced early in the educational system. Voters
need to know how to educate themselves on the topics that are
discussed by politicians and the news media. If they don't understand
what an issue is then how can they decide what their opinion
is on it. Since this is one of the excuses people use as to
why they don't vote, it needs to be eliminated. High school
government classes try to instill this information into young
voters, but by age 17 most people have decided whether or not
they want to be involved in their community. By firing interests
in this area up early during a child's education it may be possible
to get more people involved.
I believe that if more people exercised their right to vote it would cause many changes in the overall attitude of this country. People would want to understand why they were paying the government income tax and if they didn't feel that their money was being used the way they intended it to, they would change it. Currently, most people don't understand where their money goes after the IRS gets it, they just don't feel that they should have to give it up. Yet they take advantage of the programs that are provided by the government and comment on how they should be improved, but don't want to pay for it. If people understood what was going on within the government they wouldn't view politics as a negative aspect to their life. Greater education and awareness on governmental issues and more voter turnout would create a more positive overall attitude in the population of the country. People would feel more empowered by their vote and the results of this vote. In conclusion, to improve the young voter participation reforms and electoral rules dealing with education, publication, honesty, and valid issues that pertain to young voters need to be enacted. Improvements in the overall public attitude towards government and electoral processes would be the result of increased participation and education.