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Improving Voter Participation

February 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Voter participation is very low. While America defines itself as a democracy, it is hard to back this assertion up when such little of its population participates in electing the leaders of our country. According the CNN, only approximately 51% of our population votes, a staggering low number. Citizens feel that their vote really doesn’t matter in the large scheme of things, however the democracy of the United States is hurt by not having a majority of the population voting. I believe that this lack of participation is embarrassing, and I am relieved that people are addressing this issue and examine way to fix it. 

As an eighteen-year old high school student, the most humiliating statistic is the number of eligible youth voters. Jessica Babtsite reports that only 42% of eligible voters between ages eighteen to twenty-four vote. Personally, it does not surprise me that this number is so low. It seems as if politicians have neglected to reach out and connect the young people of America, and they have left us hanging. Most kids are indifferent about how our country is run, mostly because people have never cared to inform them. However, the problem is on both sides. Young people need to understand that it is pertinent to participate in the democracy that America has provided, and politicians need to understand that the young people of American have opinions and they do matter.
In 1990, an organization called Rock the Vote was created to improve the statistic of youth voting. The program informed kids, and encouraged them to vote. This program also awoken the politicians, and made them understand how necessary it is to address the youth of America. In 1992, just two years after the program started, there was nearly a 20% increase in youth voting. In 2004, 1.2 million young people voted in the presidential election. In 2008, 2.25 million young people voted. However in 2012, the level of youth voting stayed the same. As numbers have increased though, there is no doubt in my mind that despite the recent turnout in 2012, numbers in youth participation will continue to rise.

Social media has as well begun to influence voter turn out. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, vlogs, and Youtube, and email have all greatly manipulated not only the Presidential elections, but also any government election across the world. In an article on Voice of America, an online news site, James Fowler proclaims just how social media can influence an election. He says that he once received an email that said, “There was also a link that you could click on that allowed you to look up your polling place. And in some of the messages we also showed people the pictures of their friends who

Social Media

had clicked on the ‘I Voted’ button earlier in the day.” Social media affects both sides of elections, the voters and the candidates. Voters can become very informed on any candidate within seconds, as well as develop opinions on candidates within seconds. Social media has allowed voters to connect to their candidates like never before. On the other hand, candidates can also connect with their people like never before as well. They can get a feel for what the people are feeling and what people’s opinions are. Through social media, it is much easier for candidates to conform to the idea of everyone, rather than just the people they meet face to face. All of the connections created by social media have definitely influenced voter turnout, and it has definitely increased the numbers.

There is no doubt in my mind that by addressing the issue of voter participation and creating ways to improve numbers such as Rock the Vote or social media tactics, voter participation will continue to rise. I predict that both youth participation and total voter turnout will be at its greatest percentage by the 2016 elections. I know I will definitely be voting for the first time!


Will America Adopt the New Gun Control Proposal?

February 21, 2013 1 comment

Gun control conversation hit a all time high last year after the Aurora movie theatre shootings, but like most intriguing media news today, the talk seemed to die down within months. Recently however, the Sandy Hook shooting has sent the gun control to a higher level than we, as American citizens, could ever imagine.

The Obama administration essentially used this tragic event as a gateway event to take executive orders on gun control.  As this article states, “President Obama will propose an assault weapons ban and better background checks for gun buyers on Wednesday as part of a package of proposals to curb gun violence once month after the Newtown massacre.” On January 16th, 2013, Obama announced 23 executive orders on gun control. Among the more controversial orders were the ban on “military-style” guns, and large magazines. Though a stronger background check was by far least provocative proposal.  His actions show clearly his Presidential Powers according to the constitution; Article 2 Section 1 Clause 1 states, “The executive Power shall be vested in President of the United States of America.”

Assault Rifles to be potentially banned

Obviously, Obama’s actions have heated the gun control debate. Gun enthusiasts are livid. They are completely against this executive order, and they are nervous that this proposal will be passed. This is seen evident by the fact that assault rifles are selling out everywhere. On Cheaper Than Dirt, the countries largest online gun distributer, every single type of assault rifle in sold out.  Gun lobbyists, such as the NRA (National Rifle Association) have decided to act out against the current administration. They argue that the second amendment specifically states that the citizens of the United States have the right to bear arms, and banning assault rifles is unconstitutional. As the NRA has recently released a new proposal against gun control, they state that Obama has as well recently proposed that every person that buy a gun must register that gun with the federal government, as well as any guns previously owned.  The NRA and other gun lobbyist argue that this too is unconstitutional and a complete violation of the right to privacy and the right to protect one’s self (Amendment 4).  The right to bear arms and the right to protect oneself were written in order to protect yourself against an over powerful government, and it says a lot that the Obama administration is trying to constrain this right.

On the other hand, pro gun control advocates argue that a band on assault rifles is necessary to protect this country. They argue that how could you neglect the recent shootings (Aurora and Newtown), and not do anything? These advocates defend their stance by claiming that it is our country’s leader’s jobs to protect American, and President Obama would not be carrying out his duties as President if he did not act on these incidents.  Supporters debate that it is more important to protect the people of America than protect the gun industry. The 14th Amendment describes each individual’s equal protection. Just as the pro-gun advocates say that the government is violating their right to bear arms, the pro-gun control advocates argue that the government is violating the constitutional right of American citizens by neglecting to protect them.

So who is right?

While both sides have strong supporting arguments, I personally believe that the gun lobbyists, such as the NRA, are fighting an unwinnable battle. Unfortunately for them, it is almost impossible to ignore the facts of these horrible accidents. While long-term plans may be underway to prevent such incidents such as mental health awareness, a ban on assault rifles is a short-term solution that seems inevitable. As New York has already passed new gun laws, it looks as if a nationwide ban on assault rifles will soon be proceeding.

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