College students and the Election

people and relationships, politics, society

[I wrote this essay for Simon and Schuster’s College Online section on AOL soon before the 1996 Presidential Election. — Adam]

The excitement and hype of the Olympics… the confusion and tragedy of the TWA flight… all soon to become a distant memory for most of us as our media-driven consciousness becomes subsumed by…

* * * P O L I T I C S ! * * *

That’s right… from here through November we’ll be living and breathing Clinton’isms, Dole’isms, and Independent-But-Likely-Not-Perot’isms.

That is, unless you turn off and tune out. Which brings us to the question… what does Politics mean to us college students anyway?

Some would argue not much. Year after year, throughout Republican and Democratic leaders alike, our taxes go up, college tuitions increase, our homework load intensifies. And there’s still no explanation in sight for that 1.73% of socks that become mysteriously transported to the post-laundry netherworld of invisible single sock congregants.

In other words, many disgruntled college students just ignore the world of politics, not because they don’t feel affected by it, but because they just can’t see their vote changing anything.

Others, myself included, see the Democrats (including President Clinton) as the lesser of evils, and about as close to “champions for the college student” as we’re going to get. Why? The Democrats have supported AmeriCorp, which has helped thousands of young people like ourselves afford college. The Republicans have fought to gut this program. The Democrats have similarly supported greater loan-repayment grace periods, and a standardized (and simplified) national educational loan system. Once again, the “other guys” have opposed these pro-college student positions.

Of course, not everything is as it seems. Closer to home, on the college campuses themselves, I often find myself admiring Republican-sponsored initiatives and positions more than the contrasting liberal views. But I’ll leave that for another column 🙂

In the meantime, why not make your voice heard on our message board, in the Politics topic? [Keyword: COLLEGE ONLINE on AOL] Conservatives, I’m especially interested in hearing you defend your party’s record on higher education and college student interests.

And lastly… no matter where you fall on the spectrum, let me assure you that your vote DOES count. Register today. It’s painless. It’ll make your parents proud. And then people will respect you more when you whine about the state of affairs today.

Written by Adam Lasnik sometime in 1996, for Simon and Schuster Publishing’s “College Online” Forum

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