The 2020 presidential election is coming up. We've already had our Massachusetts primary, and now the race is getting even narrower. This is one of many elections. There's a reason why every voting eligible student should care about elections, not only as a citizen, but as a college student. There are also reasons why those who are not citizens should care and can get involved.
This shapes our future. Depending on which candidate goes on to become our new president, we confront the strong potential of having different laws and policies in regards to the economy and the environment. These are things which impact our lives at their core.
In the discussions of the economy, what benefits will be available to people, what healthcare will be available, and the price of colleges, we need to care and think critically. Money does not bring happiness, but it certainly helps to be financially stable. Ensuring that we will be able to afford basic necessities, in order to both survive and strive, should be a number one priority.
The environment is something else that impacts each and every one of us—not just those of us who live in the United States. If the wrong people get brought into governmental power, it could lead to potentially irreversible damage to our planet. There’s no Plan B. We can not just casually pack up and go to another planet. We have to make the best of the one that we have.
Your vote does matter. Those who are too young to vote, along with minority groups, are largely relying on others to vote with their best interest at heart. If not for yourselves, then do it for them. Elections can have drastic ongoing consequences. We are the newest generation of voters and we can shape the history from here onwards.
People between the ages of 18 and 29 are around a fifth of eligible voters (1). Despite this, not even half of those eligible college students will vote in a national election (2). This needs to change. How we make change is by becoming the change.
Start by voting. Research the candidates and think critically about each option and their stances. One helpful website is ISideWith (isidewith.com), which allows you to take a quiz and compare your views with that of the candidates up for federal and state elections. Some other useful websites to find information are PolitiFact (politifact.org), VoteSmart (votesmart.org), and the politicians’ personal websites. You also can simply read news articles on the candidates.
Aside from voting, there’s a lot more you can do to get involved. If you don’t have a ton of time available, you can simply share your thoughts on social media or have conversations with friends. If you want to really get involved, you can volunteer time to work with the campaign. There’s lots of options available—maybe even look into the UMass Boston College Democrats and College Republicans groups.
For those students who are not U.S. citizens, there are still reasons for you to care, as well as things that you can do. No, you cannot vote—but you can share thoughts, have open discussions, and encourage voting. As a student studying in this country, what happens here can impact you as well. As a human living on this Earth, things like environmental policies will have the risk of impacting you and your family as well. Lastly, if you are interested in one day becoming a citizen here, that may either become easier or more difficult, depending on who gets elected.
You should care. You also should know that there is more than just a presidential election—local elections exist too. You also should know that there are more than two options for president—third-party candidates exist. Don't be afraid to talk about your voting choices and your thoughts on the candidates available. Think about the kind of world that you want to be in, and make it happen.