Voting: What you don’t know will hurt you

Your fear is not an excuse for a lack of trying

Over the last few years, the political climate has been an actualization of my nightmares. From Kanye West’s presidential candidacy to heads of state trading making nuclear war threats via Twitter, the last few years have felt like a cruel, cosmic joke. The longer you stay on any news channel, the more fragile the status of our future seems to get. As true as this is, and as scary as big, flashy headlines like “Trump Indicted,” “Insurrection” and “Fraudulent Election” appear, don’t let them dissuade you from engaging in politics. They’re just indicators that not only should we get out there and vote, but that we no longer have a choice.

In the midst of political confusion and calamity, even I, a political science major, have found myself questioning why we should vote. Time and time again, we’re told that every vote matters. We’re shown rare occurrences when one vote changes the outcome of an election, and these statistics are supposed to motivate us. Nonetheless, we don’t always get what we want: the people that we vote for don’t always win, and these statistics don’t change that fact.
This hopelessness is understandable, especially on a federal level. Like most things in life, though, when you fix the foundation the rest will follow. Putting effort into local elections will draw attention to efforts for change that are occurring right here in our own city. For example, San Antonio local elections are on May 6, and the ballot will include the races for mayor, city council and, most importantly, Proposition A.

Ron Nirenberg, our current mayor, has spoken out against the proposition. Besides moonlighting on Trinity’s campus and slinking through every SGA-sponsored event, I suppose Nirenberg also spends his time going back on his word. In a 2017 interview, when the issue was on the ballot, Nirenberg revealed his support for the cite-and-release policy, a facet of the proposition which reduces the punishment for low-level offenders. Now, he seems to have changed his mind.

This isn’t the first time Nirenberg has been wishy-washy, as he frequently alters his beliefs to woo whoever he needs to, which seems like important information to know about the incumbent in the midst of his reelection campaign. He’s officially an independent, but is known for changing his appearance to be either conservative or liberal depending on which takes precedence amongst voters.

As students at Trinity University, we have an indisputable privilege in this city. We have the resources and support we need to be registered and informed voters who prioritize our futures. Though I understand we have academically rigorous curricula that occupy a lot of our time, our society has depreciated to the point where that’s not a valid argument to excuse your lack of voting. Yet, a lot of students are still hesitant and often discouraged when it comes to voting.

According to Madhu Sridhar, president of the League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area (LWVSA), voter reluctance is a common phenomenon that our generation is afflicted with. LWVSA is a nonpartisan political organization that provides voter education.

“The younger generation … they are growing up in a [politically complex] environment … that just tries to make them more skeptical about the election process and the integrity of the election system,” Sridhar said.

A complex political arena can be disheartening and anxiety-inducing, or it can be motivating. With every crisis, abuse of power and ounce of blatant disrespect thrown in our faces, our governments push us away from being engaged citizens. Instead of letting these disparities bring you down or become excuses for your lack of trying, let them be a reason to do research and become aware of your surroundings. Don’t let illicit affairs, especially in local elections, slip through the cracks. Though it may be tedious, it is part of your responsibility as a citizen not to perpetuate the flaws within the American democracy you so often complain about.

“You cannot put democracy on autopilot … it is not a spectator’s sport, each one of us must participate to make a representative democracy work for all,” Sridhar said.

Pick up an LWVSA voter guide at the entrance of Coates Library, hop on a bus to the nearest polling station, browse VOTE411 and, most importantly, go be an informed voter.