I am going to end this column like I begin it with a statement that resembles an aphorism, but also is viewed as a common sense-ism, yet people—many my age—respond to this statement in a very nonsensical way; therefore, making it a paradox in nature that everyone agrees upon, yet one that many—again, those my age—do not live by, and it is this: There is nothing worse for a citizen than to be an apathetic voter.
When I talk to those who are passionate about voting, their explanation tends to come out in a rush like the previous sentence, filled with emotion and insight about what is wrong with young voters.
Talking to those who are apathetic when it comes to casting a vote…well…they just don’t really say anything.
Usually the best thing to do in trying to get a point across is to tell a parable, but since our culture now hinges on bloggy self-indulgence, where we ourselves must be the central character of the stories we tell, I am going to use something even better: a personal life experience.
When I went to Cambodia this past summer, it was election time.
Election time in a developing country is an experience hard to carve out with words.
This time is quite different from what we experience here in the United States: jet-setting presidential candidates traversing the country to raise millions upon millions of dollars for re-election. There aren’t any fancy commercials bashing each other, or getting young celebrities to be a spokesperson for the president like Lena Dunham and Sarah Silverman have for President Obama.
No, there is just heaped corruption in Cambodia that goes much deeper than the almost superficial issues our presidential candidates get into.
There are parades of competing parties like the Sam Rainsey Party and the Cambodian People’s Party that make their way through the streets of the capital city of Phnom Penh, shouting rally cries in Khmer from loudspeakers.
Many in America become disgruntled by the apparent corruption that goes on, but it is nowhere near as obvious as it is in Cambodia. The Cambodian People’s Party has been under the operation of Hun Sen, the prime minister, since the 1970s when Cambodia experienced a genocide, leaving a third of the population dead.
The Cambodian Peoples’ Party is not popular in the capital city where there are more politically aware citizens who realize the dangers from the communist CPP. They manage to get the province regions votes though, because they bribe the people with bags of rice and other things of this nature right before election time.
The thing I noticed the most though was how so many of the people my age were interested in politics and knew exactly what was going on. They were not only informed but they were passionate, because they know what a vote can achieve.
The youngsters in Cambodia could have a defeatist attitude, because it may be a while before power shifts to new hands in the country, but they continue to believe in what voting can do.
We have a voice in our society and if we do not vote, it only implies ignorance and a missed opportunity to not only make a statement, but to respect the fact that you have the choice to vote in a free country where elections can be determined fairly.
Take advantage of what you, the voter, can do. The only thing apathy can achieve is the opposite of progress. There is nothing worse for a citizen than to be an apathetic voter.
Patrick Boyd is a senior English and journalism major from Choudrant who serves as editor for The Tech Talk. Email comments to gpb...@latech.edu.