Presidential election offers opportunity for civic discussion

Jasmine Fleming

This has been an exciting election season from my perspective.

Although I have a political party affiliation, I watch the Democratic and Republican presidential debates to see how the candidates answer important questions. With 21 candidates currently in the race, I am almost guaranteed to come away with feelings of inspiration from some, frustration from others and entertainment from those whom I firmly believe should never run for office.

I personally believe as U.S. citizens, we should take the opportunity to pick our country’s leaders seriously, and as college students learn more each day, we have a responsibility to share our opinions and ideas with other generations.

Unfortunately, only 55 percent of the eligible U.S. population voted for president in 2012, according to the American Presidency Project. However, voters age 18-29 comprised 19 percent of those votes, according to a Politico study.

Although candidates do not always cater messages to college-aged students, maybe they should. In the same study, Politico showed 67 percent of the youth vote went to President Obama in 2012.

Often, candidates can forget how important the millennial vote is. For example, the Oct. 28 Republican debate will be at University of Colorado Boulder in an 11,000-seat arena, but the GOP is only reserving 50 student seats, according to an earlier USA Today College article.

To combat this, students at the university have created a petition to reserve more seats, which has 783 signatures. The university’s Student Government Association has also passed a resolution asking for more seating.

Students are making more of an effort to be informed about candidates, whether they feel welcomed to or not.

When College Republicans brought presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee to UNA earlier this month, he filled the seats of the Guillot University Center with many wanting to hear what he had to say.

College Democrats has also been involved in informing students of the candidates by hosting a watch party for the first democratic debate.

Even with these opportunities to get involved in the presidential discussion, students may not realize how important their votes are.

Political analysts expect as much as 40 percent of the votes in next year’s election to come from youth, according to an analysis in The Washington Times. The article also encouraged the GOP to reach out to the voters to avoid the same results from 2012.

If politicians do not realize how important the youth vote is, they are missing out. However, students should not make the same judgment.

We have the opportunity to discuss with others who we think should run this country, as well as ask them to consider our ideas. Even better, we can vote and hopefully elect the president of our choice, and we can have a say in our country’s future.

The next time someone asks your opinion on a political topic, you should engage in that discussion to either become more informed or to inform someone else.

Also, when the time comes next year to participate in the presidential election, remember that every vote counts, especially the millennial generation’s vote.