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viewpoint

The 2016 election: What matters to you?

| Thursday, December 3, 2015

If someone put a microphone in your hand, what would you tell the 2016 presidential candidates? We, the NDVotes ’16 Task Force, asked a group of students this question two weeks ago. Now, we put the question to you.

Students told us Notre Dame’s campus is uninvolved and unaware when it comes to political issues. Young people appear disillusioned with the political process, with their elected officials and with the candidates who are promising change in 2016. They questioned where that apathy comes from. Do young voters think their votes don’t matter? If so, why doesn’t that trouble us? Where is the movement for political change among youth in America?

Maybe, as some students suggested, it is because Americans have become complacent. They take their right to vote for granted, never having had to fight for it. There are difficulties in voting, particularly for college students who do not live at home. Often their first chance to vote comes while they are at school and they must request an absentee ballot. There is a lack of education about the “how” and “why” of voting, and an even greater lack of education about current events and issues that are at stake in elections. When young people do tune into news about election issues, they easily become discouraged by the overwhelming presence of “big money,” which seems to deprive them of any real say in the matter.

But other students reminded us of reasons to be optimistic. Millennials are more active in other forms of civic duty than previous generations have been. We engage in the political lives of our homes, schools and workplaces. We challenge ideas through demonstrations and social media movements. The question then becomes: How do we extend that passion to voting? To effecting change in local, state and national government? There is no doubt that young voters of this campus, this country and this generation have things to say. Perhaps they need a reminder that they truly do have a voice in government.

NDVotes ’16 intends to make the voice of young people at Notre Dame heard in the 2016 elections by writing an open letter to the presidential candidates. We will tell our prospective representatives what issues we want to hear about over the coming year and what kind of discourse we expect from them. Through this open letter, we will speak to the next president of the United States.

Some students have already shared with us issues that matter to them in the 2016 presidential election. These issues include foreign policy, health care, money in politics, the environment and climate change, tax reform, veteran affairs, wealth inequality, Wall Street regulations, racial issues, police brutality and immigration. What matters to you?

Sarah Tomas Morgan

sophomore

Task Force co-chair

 

Prathm Juneja

freshman

Task Force co-chair

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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