Recently the approval rating of Congress has dropped to a staggering 9 percent. Many Americans are outraged with their senators or representatives, yet, come election time, most incumbents win with over 60 percent of the vote.
The fact is that very few of the "complainers" are actually voting. Since the start of vote-by-mail here in Oregon, voting is made to be so simple. In fact, Oregonians can register to vote in less than five minutes either online or by mailing in a registration card. Unfortunately, many people don't do that. When I turned 18, the first thing on my mind was to register to vote and it was an honor to take part in the fundamental right we have in this state and this country.
Plus, more people need to become better informed on the issues. Far too many votes go towards one candidate based on looks, popularity, and charisma; instead of intelligence and in some cases competence.
The network nightly news programs devote about a minute of the broadcast to Congress and about three minutes to the president. Only 30 seconds of coverage is given to the Supreme Court, even though it is the strongest branch of the federal government. Newspapers are believed to be more reliable than TV news, because of the more detailed stories, but newspaper subscriptions are spiraling downward due to the rapid changes in technology.
In 2008, Barack Obama utilized his message, and current social networking to appeal to newly registered voters. Currently President Obama has over 22 million Facebook fans compared to Mitt Romney's million. I wonder how many of these fans will actually fill out their ballots or go to the polls?
Political apathy is very common in today's society mainly because people are "sick of politics." A good political science instructor once told me that "if you turn on politics, politics will turn on you." Obviously politics has turned on many people, because very little is being accomplished in Congress right now. When I ask other students around campus if they have heard of Mark Hatfield, many have no idea of who I'm talking about. As we all should know, Mark Hatfield was our governor, and five-term U.S. senator. Hatfield is an example of a true senator, because he put practicality before politics and believed that he should support legislation that benefited Oregon, instead of legislation that benefited his own political interests. Today the Senate lacks noble scholars like Mark Hatfield. Several have tried to be elected, yet the incumbents prevail.
I have been to many town halls and most of Oregon's congressional delegation has been doing a good job of communicating with constituents back home. I always watch the local newspapers and check my representative's website to see if they will be speaking in my area. If they are, I always try to make it and ask a question.
People should realize that our tax dollars are paying our representatives and senators to represent us, and our questions or concerns are always warranted. It saddens me to go to a town hall and only see roughly 10 or so people present. Most of the people who go to the town halls are likely to vote in the next election and those who don't, probably not.
Just recently, in the first congressional district both the Republican and Democratic candidates were competing for the Independent Party nomination. Out of 12,000 registered independents, only 86 actually voted. It is just so pathetic to see those results and the lack of knowledge in voting. Please vote, but better yet, please make an informed vote. Remember, if you don't vote, you simply cannot complain.
Evan Bryan studies philosophy, politics and economics at Eastern Oregon University.
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