Show Your Primary Colors

Give yourselves a pat on the back, Anteaters: this year, you’ve rallied, protested, gotten arrested and done sketchy things to get your voice heard. You’ve marched around campus, you’ve marched in LA, you’ve marched in Sacramento, and the Governator has started to listen. Now the task falls to every one of us to get out and accomplish where many adults fail.

That’s right: you gotta get out and vote.

We’re not talking about the 2012 election to re-elect/dethrone Obama and reverse Proposition 8, and we’re not talking about voting in November for Arnie’s replacement; before all those important and well-publicized elections, you need to vote in the party primaries for the gubernatorial election.

We’ll be honest: this election is not going to be fun. Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner and Jerry Brown are not inspiring candidates. It would be easy to write off the election as a race between candidates that probably won’t do much to fix the state’s problems. It would be easy to just stay home.

In 2008, voter turnout in the 18-24 bracket lagged behind voters in the 45-64 bracket by 19 percent, according to the Census Bureau. Young voters have traditionally abstained from voting; this hurts student interests. Most, if not all, of the source of your protesting ire can be traced to state disinvestment in public education: now is your chance to vote for who will preserve higher education.

Now is not the time to give in to anti-establishment hatred and dismiss elections. Candidates traditionally dismiss our 18-24 bracket of voters as people who, well, don’t vote. Our disillusionment has earned us dismissal, not just in the party primary elections but in the big November elections where we choose our Californian-in-Chief for the next four years.

Party primaries may seem unimportant, but they determine the direction of the party. If students stay home, radical votes gain influence. One need only look the to Kentucky (yes, Kentucky) senatorial primary where Tea Party candidate Rand Paul defeated Trey Grayson for the Republican nomination. Unrest and calls for new leadership are not unique to this election, but the backlash for economic unrest has inspired marginal candidates to threaten middle-of-the-road incumbents.

Further, disinterest in politics by the 18-24 demographic undercuts respect for student lobbyists and other politically active peers. Politicians respond to votes. We need to make sure that they are worried about their chances of reelection whenever they vote against our interests.  We must preserve the respect our actions and those of our peers have impressed upon the political machine by continuing to make our voice heard – not just the education-related issues preserving Cal Grants and curbing tuition increases, but immigration and offshore oil drilling and every other state issue that could affect our futures as Californians.

If you choose not to vote, you still have to live with the results. Do you really want our future to be determined by people who are much older than we are?

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