Decisions are made by those who show up

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By Staff Editorial

By Staff Editorial

On Nov. 4 the nation will elect the 44th President of the United States. Like it or not, either John McCain or Barack Obama will be the next leader of the free world.

The next president’s policy decisions will affect every aspect of your life; your ability to get a job, the cost of living , access to loans, healthcare and education.

Walk through the Quad and you’ll hear the enthusiastic complaints of students. Many students are quick to express their outrage at gas prices, cost of living, and unemployment, yet they seem content to be criticizing from the sidelines. It is surprising so many Riverside City College students and young people in general don’t plan to vote.

It must be the politicians’ fault for not talking about issues young people care about.”I don’t know about the candidates,” students say. “What difference could my vote make? These issue don’t affect me anyway.””I’ll vote,” they say, “when they start talking about the issues that make sense to me.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t how the world works.

Not only are these excuses absurd, they keep voters from utilizing the one tool that could change these uninformed opinions. Candidates care about winning.

Millions are spent fighting for motor-voter laws, which allow people to register when they apply for driver’s licenses in states that don’t already have them to help young people get registered to vote.

Candidates go on programs directed at young people, and give interviews for magazines with youth audiences.

Then there are programs like Rock the Vote. They’ll put on free concerts with big name bands just to get young people registered to vote.

But don’t let that fool you. In the end, no matter how important they make “the future leaders of America” out to be, they’re politicians. Winning is still the bottom line, and the youth market can be a valuable asset.

If you don’t vote you don’t count.The age demographic that votes the most by far is senior citizens. This is why so often candidates talk about social security, pensions and Medicare.

So why is it supposed to be a better move to spend time trying to campaign for the youth vote, when it’s been proven time and time again that there is no such thing?

Issues that young people predominantly care about – the environment, the Internet, federal financial aid – these issues are rarely mentioned.

Politicians would talk about these issues if there was a reason to believe it could get young voters to the polls.

With Rock the Vote, with Obama and McCain both having MySpace and Facebook accounts, with the numerous appearances by both candidates on programs like The Daily Show, it should be obvious that they want to reach young people.

Politicians have to get elected to be able to make a difference. To get elected they need votes. So, obviously they’re going to cater to proven voters. Young people haven’t given them a reason yet, so it’s no wonder politicians aren’t exactly overloading their speeches with youth’s concerns.

By staying home on Nov. 4, you’re not hurting them at all. In fact, it helps them. It makes things simpler.

Given the motor-voter laws, given that most newly-registered voters are under the age of 28, young people could be the most powerful demographic in the country.

And they’ve effectively eliminated themselves from the process.

Candidates don’t need to talk about college tuition fees or who they think the Internet belongs to. Nobody who cares will vote.And none of this is going to change until young people start voting.

There really isn’t any excuse not to vote.Sure, lots of students have jobs as well as classes. It seems like they don’t have enough time.

But then again, even blue-collar, “nine-to-five” workers manage to somehow find the time to vote, and they’re not known for the amount of free time they have.

Work isn’t even an excuse, as your employer is required by law to give you time to vote if you ask for it.

But if you’re really concerned about how long it will take, vote early. Less than 1 percent of all votes will be cast before 3 p.m. on Election Day. The rush starts after 5 p.m. Everyone votes after work.

This election is vital. The outcome will set the tone for the next four years.

And then, of course, there are several propositions on the ballot, some of which have garnered national attention.

Proposition 8 would change the wording of the California State Constitution.

And perhaps most significantly, until young people start voting, the issues they most care about will be abandoned unless an older demographic takes interest.

Beyond the presidential election, there are also two seats open on the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees. Whoever wins will affect students directly. So let young people all stay home and let others decide their future. That sounds like a plan.

Bottom line: Make sure you have time on Nov. 4.

If you have class that day, plan around it. Visit the link below to find out where your nearest polling place is. If you have work, call and ask them to give you time off to vote.

If you don’t have a lot of time, plan to be there early.

If you can’t be there early, make sure you have lots of time to wait. Bring a book or some music.

Make sure you get this done.

Your future is being decided, whether you’re there to speak up or not, and your excuses won’t make nearly as much a difference as your vote will.

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