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Every vote counts

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, September 2, 2004

After the debacle of democracy that was Election 2000, one message remained long past the butterfly ballots and hanging chads: Every Vote Counts.

Four years later, with the country once again split evenly down a bitter partisan divide, the same words, cliché or not, hold true. Just as cliché – and sadly, just as true – is the consensus that young Americans don’t vote, and in recent years, Notre Dame has been no exception.

Now is the time to make it one.

There is absolutely no excuse not to pay attention to this election. National news coverage blares constantly. The candidates adjust their platforms and amplify their attacks almost hourly. Across campus this fall, student political groups such as the College Democrats, College Republicans and Rock the Vote will do their best to eliminate the option of Notre Dame bubble-induced ignorance.

Yet ignorance, however disappointing, pales next to cynicism. And, feeling alternately dismissed and patronized by political campaigns, cynical young voters and their arguments are in no short supply.

Both candidates are the same, the cynics say.

But the next president could select up to three new Supreme Court justices, setting a decades-long tone for issues like abortion, the death penalty and the military draft. All are points on which neutrality is hard to find. All are points on which President Bush and John Kerry disagree.

I’m not from Florida or Ohio, the cynics say.

But so-called swing states are powerless without 40-plus others falling – or not falling – into place. Even the reddest state could bleed blue if taken for granted.

Notre Dame isn’t exactly the most politically-charged campus, the cynics say.

But who’s to say it can’t be? And what better chance than a presidential election to blast the apathetic stereotype?

Youth gives license to many things. Throwing away a precious American right – due to ignorance or cynicism or both – should not be one of them.