Editorial: Students face enormous stakes in November

Opinion by Editorial Board
Oct. 5, 2010, 2:03 a.m.

The 2008 election saw historic levels of youth voter turnout around the country. The 54.5 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds who voted represented the second-highest percentage in American history and played an instrumental role in propelling Barack Obama to the presidency. But two years later, political prognosticators tell a different story. Voter apathy is up and vote totals among youth will be down, say the experts. Historic trends and current polling show a relative lack of excitement for midterm elections that will keep our demographic away.

The editorial board urges Stanford students to prove this prediction wrong. Make your voice heard. Register to vote. Fill out an absentee ballot or find the right polling place on Nov. 2.

To really fulfill your civic duty, you must go far beyond this minimum standard. Educate yourself on the candidates and the issues. Do your best to get past the political banter and engage in the complexities of the questions. Read newspapers. Ask your professors what they think. Take the time to apply your own reasoning to the facts and opinions.

The decisions your elected officials make in the coming years will shape this nation and the world for decades. How will tax policy and spending evolve to prevent the national debt from exploding? How will we attempt to shape a vibrant economy that quells the crisis of unemployment? What comes next in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world? Can we ever find enough agreement to make necessary changes and investments in our energy infrastructure? Through the ballot, we have a voice in these issues if we choose to use it.

And for the nearly 90 percent of Stanford students who voted for President Obama, now is no time to be silent. Despite a litany of setbacks, Obama has, contrary to popular perception, succeeded in his first two years. Swift and sure action saved the nation’s financial system from total disaster. The stimulus created and saved millions of jobs while beginning to lay the technological foundations for a successful 21st-century economy.

Indeed, much remains to be accomplished. But Republicans are offering a starkly contrasting vision of what exactly needs to be done. You must decide yourself whether or not Vice President Biden is right when he says that if Republicans gain control of Congress, the progress will “come to a screeching halt.” Republicans have promised to peel back the landmark health-care law, stand against efforts to promote clean energy, and start taking drastic measures to curb the size of the federal government.

Debates about these policy issues are not the only thing characterizing this campaign season. A wave of anti-intellectual extremism, which diverts from mainstream politics, also has marked the year. A host of “Tea Party” Senate candidates deny that anthropogenic global warming is happening. Candidates have lied about their college degrees, objected to the passage of the Civil Rights Act and called for the closure of the Departments of Energy and Education. If elected, who knows if they will indeed act upon these claims?

There is no presidential race on the ballot, but the stakes this November are enormous. Whether or not you agree with the political views expressed here, get your ballot counted on Nov. 2.

The Stanford Daily Editorial Board comprises Opinions Editors, Columnists, and at least one member of the Stanford Community. The Board's views are reached through research, debate and individual expertise. The Board does not represent the views of the newsroom nor The Stanford Daily as a whole. Current voting members include Chair Nadia Jo '24, Joyce Chen '25, YuQing Jian '25, Jackson Kinsella '27, Alondra Martinez '26 and Sebastian Strawser '26.

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