My thoughts on the impending presidential election are myriad and varied, and few of them concentrate on for whom I will be voting.
That decision, barring unforeseeable political disaster, has already been made.
However, my more pressing thoughts have focused upon the very act of voting within the context of American culture, and they always seem to ultimately swirl back to this difficult question: Which matters more? My actual, singular vote? Or the fact that a white, male, under-24 college student with no dependents voted?
Sometimes it’s very difficult to cope happily with the fact that, to many entities, I am simply a number or statistic. But then I realize that this is really just a cliché with which I choose to identify, indicating I have a bizarre desire to be affirmed by the companies from which I purchase my khaki slacks and hamburgers. This, I suspect, is a general sentiment experienced by many (if not most) people, and it seems the political tendency is to cater to it, as most (if not all) candidate speeches and commercials I’ve ever seen, aim to paint the candidate as accessible and open to the average-Joe voter.
It's also sometimes difficult to reconcile the fact that, realistically, my vote in the national election matters very, very little. This is a good thing for democracy, but a bad thing for my personal intellectual struggles. I choose not to divulge to others for whom I vote, mostly because I believe that leads others to categorize me. It also leads me (because I am stupid and insensitive) to categorize others; a great social crime when you consider how wonderfully different everybody is from everybody else.
But back to the reality of the question I posited earlier. If I perceive my vote to be meaningless in terms of the actual election, then what good is it for me to cast it? The only favorable incentive I realize in voting is that I increase the representation of my demographic. That and the old folks working the booth hook me up with one of those sweet “I Voted” stickers, which are the bomb, especially in your senior year of high school, when Mrs. Katchwilder doles out extra credit to us few, lucky 18-year-olds who could vote.
So what happens if I decide I don’t have any desire to stand up and shine for the white, male college undergraduates who still live off Mom and Dad? Then I would have analyzed the choice from about a gazillion different angles beyond the question, “Who do I think would be a better president based on my social, political, and economic status?” and ultimately, screeching to the crushing conclusion that I think it would be most beneficial to stay home and watch season three of Arrested Development on November 4th.
Many have tagged Generation Y (if you don’t, or only vaguely, remember cassette tapes, you are a member of Generation Y) as being apathetic, thanks to low turnouts in the 2004 presidential election. But maybe we just see it differently. Not better, just differently. We don’t carry the constant reminder of parents who lived through wars (or cold wars) for the right to vote, nor do we have to do much more than punch a few buttons to find information to which people didn’t even have access ten years ago. So yes, it’s fair to say voting is not necessarily a big deal to us, but to judge us as apathetic is wrong. We were (and many are and many will be) raised experiencing different political, social, and economic tremors: Mexican immigration, the Iraqi War, the current banking failures, the list goes on. But the core of it is this: If this large a chunk of my generation isn’t voting, what does that mean fifty years down the road when we’ve taught our children to do, or not to do the same?