By Lotte Jønsson, staff writer for The Current
As a political scientist, there is nothing more exciting than an election, and the American elections are perceived as the Olympics, at least were I am from in Europe. Considering everything going on in St. Louis the last couple of months, I had no doubt that the election would be important. However, I must admit the election-spirit has been missing. No posters, no discussions, and no politicians have been present on campus. Where was the election?
According to Keena Lipsitz, who studied political campaigns in the book“New Directions in American politics,” there is a simple reason for that. The election is not competitive. Missouri is what is called a “safe state.” Very few elected positions are up for grab. Very little of the local politics are competitive. For that reason, the political parties will not campaign in Missouri. They will instead spend time on the states“that matter.”
However, this in my opinion, is a very big problem for the people on campus. According to Robert A. Dahl, who wrote in the famous book“Democracy and its Critics,” that people need some degree of knowledge to make a reasonable choice in a democracy. Where do most get their knowledge? The election.
Therefore, the election campaigns are very important. First, they give you that knowledge, either through direct discussion, ads, or pamphlets. These campaigns tell the voter about the candidates, and what they have voted for in Congress or in other legislative chambers. You ought to know these details if you are to go in and cast your ballot.
Second, as Steve Frantzitch said, elected officials make decisions that affect your life. The election is voter’s opportunity to speak up about the choices politicians make, and politicians do not listen to those who do not vote. Yet it seems very hard to make that decision and to signal to your politicians, if the voters have not been given this information through campaigning.
I have heard the argument many times that people do not like elections, because there are so many negative campaigns and that it is not important to vote. However, as for the negative campaigns, studies show, that negative election is actually positive. People gain more knowledge from these ads. For the question of importance, it is simple. By voting, you support the democracy and by voting you convey what you want.
It is too late to rectify the situation on campus now, but hopefully people will make that extra effort to read about the different elections and candidates before they cast their vote.
© The Current 2014