The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Citizens' Apathy Creates No Change

3 min read
According to a report by the United States census, in the 2008 general election, 64 percent of voting-age citizens voted. This may come across as surprising. After all, that means that 36 percent of the potential voting population is not voting. Are people in the United States really that lazy, or are they just apathetic? It is hard to understand initially. What reasonable excuse can people possibly have for not voting?

What may come across as even more disturbing is the fact that only about 52 percent of young people, ages 18 to 24, participated in the 2008 election, and that was an increase compared to some past elections. This means that nearly half of our peers chose not to vote. Every other age group shows a higher percentage of participation. Even senior citizens, age 75 and over, had a higher percentage, and sometimes they have even more difficulty making it to the polls. Curious indeed.

So why do only 64 percent of Americans, and only about half of young, eligible people, vote? I believe it is because many people in the U.S. have simply become disillusioned with the government and politics in general. There is a significant lack of trust between the government and its citzens.

Why would a person want to vote for someone that they do not trust? I do not think many people do. It is not hard to think in such a cynical way. It’s easy to see that politics often becomes a game of who can tell the biggest, most outrageous lie and get the most people to believe it. The craziest thing is that our leaders condemn each other for lying, while they lie themselves.

Maybe you, the reader, are beginning to think that I am simply paranoid. However, the Website,, analyzes political leaders’ statements and conducts research on said statements to determine their legitimacy.

The fact that this website even has to exist strikes me as a problem. Politifact rates only 23 percent of statements made by President Barack Obama as “true.” His current opponent Mitt Romney rates even worse, at just 17 percent of his statements rated as “true.” For both candidates, a higher percentage of their statements are rated as “half-true,” which I consider to be even more disturbing than outright lies. Statements rated “half-true” are often accurate statistics or facts delivered in a way that is glaringly out of context. This can give the uninformed listener a completely inaccurate view on the subject. But, the statements are still not entirely false, right?

When people realize that someone has lied to them, they begin to think that the liar must not have a great deal of respect for them. If our leaders cannot convince the public to vote for them on the basis of pure fact, then they probably should not be in elected office at all. When both sides lie, apparently a large percentage of disgruntled people in this country simply refuse to support either side. By simply not participating in the voting process, they make a major difference.

Do you trust our leaders? It may not seem like an easy thing to do after reading this article. However, if you want to change how you feel about the government, refusing to participate in the democratic process will do absolutely nothing. Even though every political election may seem like choosing between the lesser of two evils, the only way to make things change for the better is to vote.