I didn’t vote. Not for 2012’s presidential election. Not for last year’s midterms. Am I registered? Yes. But I didn’t go. I had no drive and I had no wish. And I know I’m not the only one.
What is it that turns so many young people apathetic when it comes to politics? The answer to that question is probably different for everybody, but what I do know about our generation is that we do not tend to put attention—let alone energy—into something we don’t care about.
When the election came and went, I internally reconciled with my lack of patriotism by deciding that I would eventually vote once someone made me care. Why should I put in my two arbitrary cents when it feels like I’m just casting them into the void? Why not let the people who actually care decide—the people who know not only who they’re voting for, but what they’re voting for—which plan and vision for the future of our country they believe will benefit us the most?
But out of seemingly nowhere, someone has made me care. And that is Bernie Sanders.
No matter where you stand in your political and social views, I believe that the apathetic stance we tend to take can only change if we center our conversations on what we support and see as admirable. It is easy to gather around and, for example, call Donald Trump a bunch of nasty names. It can even feel cathartic and relieve some tension in our shoulders, but the best conversations—and the most intellectual ones—will come when we begin our focus on common goals and visions for the future.
In about a year, will Bernie Sanders be the one I vote for? Maybe or maybe not, but he is a man with a vision that not only grabs my attention, but makes me want to put more energy into finding out more about him and other candidates that stand for similar goals.
Among Sanders’ main goals runs a theme of riving the middle class. With Eastern Michigan University being one of our state’s least expensive schools, I think it’s safe to bet that for the most part, we come from families that range from the mid to lower half of this rapidly disappearing class. Being in college, we are literally paying to do our best to secure ourselves safely into that class—a class with more access to the probability of not just life and liberty, but the comfort of the pursuit of happiness. As we make our way through these four plus years, the lowering (or even eliminating) of student tuition, making healthcare more affordable and raising the minimum wage not just another 75 cents, but almost doubling it are issues we are becoming increasingly more impacted by.
Being himself very much a part of the middle class, these are issues that Bernie Sanders seriously takes to heart. From videos I’ve seen posted on the Internet of both formal and informal interviews of him, I was shocked to see such heart and drive in a man to better the common people while also not sitting on heaps of money, unlike other candidates.
Which other candidates are offering this same kind of authenticity we too often find politicians lacking? This may yet be the presidential election where many of us previously politically apathetic young people actually find something to care enough about to do something. Like simply vote.