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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Fight for your right to vote

Published: February 8, 2008
Section: Opinions

You know the old saying that tells you to stay away from discussions about religion and politics. Well, I usually stay true to that. And not because I’m necessarily afraid to talk about the two, but because generally, before now, I didn’t really have much to offer (at least on the politics end of things, but eight years of Catholic school has given me more than enough on the other end). But, as becoming more politically aware was one of my New Year’s resolutions (Resolve to be realistic, 1/18/08), I figured I’d check in and show that yes, I have been making an effort.

I’m not going to lie and tell you I’m some political expert, because I’m far from it. But, like my article on resolutions stated, baby steps are what it’s all about. So I’ve made an effort to go on to the sites and check out the candidate’s positions of certain issues of importance, I’ve caught some of the debates on TV, and generally just followed the election more than I ever would have before.

So, what is it that caused this sudden change? Well, maybe it was the fact that I’m surrounded by tons of Brandesians who LOVE to discuss politics, maybe it’s because I need to read the newspapers for one of my classes, or maybe (and this is the most important of them all) I felt it was time to become more informed than I already had been.

I’m sure that for many of you, like me, this election will be the first in which you are eligible to cast your vote. Congratulations! This is really a big moment for us all. Somehow, after I’d registered to vote and saw that the election was rapidly approaching, I knew it was the right time to get into politics.

I’m writing this freshly from voting in the Massachusetts primary last night and I feel really good about it! It struck me as so refreshing to hear many of my classmates discussing how they were going to or had already gone to vote yesterday and the past few days. Our generation can and will play a huge role in the coming presidential election if we make our voices heard.

Not to sound all nostalgic or anything, but I’d just like to point out how lucky we all are simply for the opportunity to vote. Just think how much our ancestors went through for this often nowadays throwaway right. It really upsets me when I hear some people say that their vote doesn’t count or that they don’t feel the need to vote. Especially as a female, I feel that it’s of the utmost importance to make those who fought for our rights proud.

To touch upon some election issues, let’s turn to the campaigns of Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, respectively. Here we have a woman, and an African American running against each other, which is sort of ironic. After all, these two figures, regardless of your own political allegiances, are something to be proud of. Regardless of the senseless mudslinging and controversy, this is a major moment in our transition towards full equality in the United States. I’m sure many of our grandparents never thought they’d live to see the day when a women or an African American would run for president and make it so far, never mind both at the same time and against each other too.

This is why it upsets me to see the magnitude of this novelty diminished by overwhelming debate and fighting over these two candidate’s campaigns. Like many people have pointed out, why can’t we just marvel in and appreciate the moment without having to fall victim to all the juvenile name-calling?

And I know some people will call me naïve and say, ‘well that’s politics for you,’ but I don’t see why it has to be. Why do we have to bring someone’s gender or race into the picture when ultimately that has absolutely nothing to do with anything? In fact, if anything, electing one of these underrepresented candidates would do our country good in that it would offer us a different perspective we’d never heard from in the White House before. Aren’t the policies more important in the end, and the candidate’s plans for the future of our country?

There is no reason why a woman or an African American cannot run this country as well as, or better than a white male. And anyone who says otherwise should take a look at their own biases. We live in a patriarchy where maleness is uplifted, and femininity is often scoffed at.

So tonight when I go home and turn on the TV, though I might tune out some of the evening news, you can bet my ears will be drawn to the coverage of election 2008. And I hope that we can all just step back and appreciate our right to vote without having to fight over which candidate did this or that. After all, we’re all human and ultimately in the same boat.