As of the past few months, the 2020 election cycle is already in full swing, sparking heated debate between political parties across the nation. This upcoming election cycle will arguably be one of the most important in our nation’s recent history, and I’ve been grateful and lucky to work alongside my fellow students to advocate for the most beneficial outcome possible.
A large percentage of the student population embrace this political climate, advocating for equity and justice in rallies and forming politically charged student groups. However, there is simultaneously a large population of individuals who identify as apolitical, opting out of political discourse entirely.
According to data from 2018, approximately 26% of Americans identify as “politically disengaged.” A large portion of these are college-aged students; another 2018 study reports that only approximately 28% of voters aged 18 to 29 were “absolutely certain” that they would vote in the 2018 midterms, compared to 74% of seniors.
Lack of political engagement by college-aged voters is a nationwide issue. It’s well known that millennials are more Democratic than any previous generation. 59% of registered millennials self-identify as Democrats, according to Pew Research Center. It’s also noted by Pew that only 48% of the baby boomer population identifies as Democratic.
Low voter turnout rates by young liberal voters and high voter turnout rates by conservative seniors are part of the reason that Trump was elected president in the 2016 election. Political disengagement and burnout among young voters, many of whom are college students, are part of the reason that we now have a president who condones keeping immigrant children in cages and has been accused of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct by 17 women, as of June 25.
None of this is okay. Identifying as apolitical is not an act of neutrality; it’s an act of complacency. Choosing to opt-out of politics entirely and electing not to vote will perpetuate the current political climate, much to the detriment of the American moral climate.
For eligible students who are not registered to vote, the deadline to register is 25 days before the next-closest election. During the 2018 midterm elections, Talley Student Union offered one-stop voting for early voters, where students and the surrounding community could register and vote in one trip. There is also an option for students who are either unable to vote in person or who are not N.C. residents to fill out an absentee ballot.
Taking a stand is important. Advocating for liberty, justice and freedom for all is important, especially now. It’s time for the NC State student body to start discussions, hold rallies, and turn out and vote in the upcoming cycle. It’s our responsibility as the future of our nation to create the future we want for ourselves, and that means eliminating political disengagement.