Don’t Stop Now

Nov. 6, 2012. We re-elected a man who stands for fair immigration reform, reproductive rights and equal pay; saw the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maine and Maryland; aided the passage of Proposition 30 and witnessed a number of actions that will move our country and state forward.

We helped do that — yes, us: the lazy, apathetic college students that weren’t supposed to know anything about the election, yet alone take the time to go to the polls and vote.

Despite beliefs that youth participation would be slim and Obama’s prospects would be jeopardized by a steep decline in support from young voters, this age group proved to make a difference yet again. The exit polls from last Tuesday showed that voters aged 18 to 29 years old made up 19 percent of the national electorate. Even though this is only a slight increase from 2008, this showed that youth were not going to give up hope on Obama just yet and recognized the importance of voting.

Aside from making a difference on the national level, students also let their voices be heard here in California. On Proposition 30, an exit poll from Edison Research showed unusually strong support from young voters after Governor Brown campaigned on college campuses this fall.

Not only did we recognize our civic duty and responsibility to vote — we also saw the effect these issues could have on our personal lives and set out to address them.

And for that, thank you. Thank you for waiting in the long lines at the polls, even in the midst of midterms and other obligations. Thank you for taking the time to learn about the candidates and propositions, both at the local and national level. Thank you for caring.

But regardless of the progress that we’ve made so far, we can’t stop here. Nov. 6 has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to become politically disengaged — there are still plenty of issues that need to be tackled.
We tend to lose interest in issues once they have slipped under the radar, but just because they aren’t at the forefront of the media anymore doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

For instance, Proposition 8 — the initiative that made same-sex marriage illegal in California — is still an issue that needs our attention. Because a federal appeals court struck down on this ban in February 2012, the US Supreme Court will now be able to rule on gay marriage as early as next year. After four years of litigation, the end is nearly in sight and a decision will soon be made. We can’t stop caring about this future ground-breaking rule now.

Additionally, when the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) came to the table earlier this year, several people expressed opposition by saying that this act threatens free speech and innovation. The largest online protest in history took place on Jan. 18, 2012, where websites such as Wikipedia and Reddit blacked out their content to show the effect of Internet censorship. Causing an uproar from the general public, the bills were rejected by Congress soon after.
Because SOPA escaped from the mainstream media’s attention after this defeat, many thought that the issue of Internet censorship was resolved and stopped caring. However, there are still several acts in the US and Europe that places Internet freedoms in danger, yet not as many people are engaged because they do not receive as much exposure, and there is the illusion that the problem is solved.

And the list of issues that people have slowly gravitated away from continues each day.

Let’s not let this political fire and activism seen by so many of us slowly fade away. Engagement in local, state and national issues should not be seasonal — it is something that should be seen all year round.

Regardless, be proud of yourself. Your involvement helped create record voting numbers and helped pass a crucial measure for our educational system.

But don’t stop now, Anteaters. We still have a long road ahead of us.

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