I attend Furman University, a small, private liberal arts university in Greenville, South Carolina. Although the Politics and International Affairs department is quite large and includes an incredible faculty, politically involved students make up only a fraction of Furman’s campus.
You don’t have to take my word for it, there’s data.
The following graphic depicts Furman student’s voting statistics collected by the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement. The results show the percentage of Furman students who were eligible to vote and who actually voted int he 2012 and 2014 elections.
First of all, consider the first percentage: 24% of eligible voters on my campus voted in the presidential election. That means that three quarters of the campus– people with interests, needs, and opinions– were silent. Think about what that would mean for the entire country? In 2012, President Obama won against his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, and 57.5% of those eligible in the country voted, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. If entire eligible population voted like Furman students, we could have very well had a different president for the past four years.
Second, the 2014 Furman voting results aren’t even in the double digits. Granted, midterm
elections are not as popularized as the presidential elections, but we might expect a campus full of academically rigorous students reach a percentage higher than 8%. I get it, voting for local politicians isn’t as culturally sexy as tweeting at Kim Kardashian. The thing is, Kim K. cannot directly affect your life. Your local government officials can by advocating on your behalf before Congress, expediting governmental processes when you need help quickly, or even allocating you government money you deserve.
Yesterday I asked one of my peers about Trey Gowdy, a Republican member U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina’s fourth district. She had no idea who I was talking about. Why is that bad? I’ll give you three reasons.
- Greenville is in the fourth district, so Trey Gowdy is our congressman.
- He was a chairman of the House Benghazi Committee (said to have uncovered the Hilary Clinton email scandal).
- He came to Furman last semester.
Why should you listen to me?
Because I’ve been there. I’ve been bored or annoyed with politics. But I’ve also been there. I worked in a congressional office for the 7th district of South Carolina. I have worked with congresspersons, their staffers, and their constituents. I have witnesses local government helping hard family or medical situations. I can tell you that it is possible for the government to be a positive influence in your life. All you have to do is get involved.
Sources and Image Credit
Header Image: Sources from Steve Limentani, Slate, Mix 108, National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement
Image: Furman Voting Data used from independent study from NSLVE
Image: Gowdy Press Conference used from Crooks and Liars
Image: Gowdy at Furman used from Furman News