Occupy Wall Street should spur youth to political action, voter awareness

It’s official; Occupy Wall Street has hit Oswego. Certainly smaller than the 10,000-15,000 person protest in New York and a hell of a lot smaller than the estimated 250,000-500,000 who showed up to protests in European cities, such as Barcelona and Rome, but the meaning behind the movement is still the same. Support of the movement has come from every walk of life, including young and old, students and professors.

So why do so many students look down upon the protestors, especially the students willing to brave the elements and camp outside? As I walked by the encampment one day, I heard murmurs of how stupid it is, how there isn’t any point in doing it. Granted, the weather has not exactly been camping-friendly, but that is beside the point. The point is, those willing to sleep under the thin plastic sheets of a portable tent, while their warm, comfortable dorm room is only a short walk away, are taking action.

As a generation, we do not live up to our ideals, because taking a passive route is more comfortable and much easier to do. Certainly we have ideas of what we want to do, what we want to believe, who we want to surround ourselves with; essentially, how we wants to live. But how many will actually take on this challenge? This is stronger than ever when it comes to politics. The apathy card that has unfortunately grown increasingly hip over the years is being played, as people confuse not wanting to associate themselves with either of the two main political parties with not giving a thought about anything political.

According to the U.S Census, out of the nearly 27 million citizens aged 18-24 years old, only 12 million are actually registered to vote. Out of the meager 45 percent that are even registered, only 5.6 million even took the time to vote last November. That is one out of every five. Granted, the voter turnout during the last presidential election in 2008 was higher than that, but the numbers are still frighteningly low. While our parents are turning out to the polls 55-60 percent of the time in 2010, we were showing up roughly 21 percent of the time.

Doesn’t anyone else see the problem in this? In our haste to distance ourselves from the two-party system, we distanced ourselves from politics altogether. Yet at the same time, we have grown closer to the issues for which we have the ability to vote, and thus change, yet choose not to. Anyone can voice their opinion on a certain issue or call for change for what he or she sees as unjust, but keeping the thought to one’s self will do nothing to solve the problem.

So for all the Occupy Wall Street protestors bearing the seasonal Oswego chill, keep up the good work. You are living up to the ideals you laid out for yourself. Gather support, raise awareness and most importantly, vote to make the theoretical change a reality. While you are at it, bring the apathetic non-voters along with you. Maybe they will realize that if they want change to happen, they have to give a damn to making it happen.

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