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The Daily Tar Heel

What's the Big Deal About Voting?

Everyone says voting is important. I'm not sure why, but I'm told it is. Jesse Ventura says, "It's my civic duty." MTV tells me to "Rock the Vote." Eve tells me to "Rap the Vote." The NAACP is trying to get prisoners to vote. The candidates have yet to tell me why I should vote, only that I should vote for them.

But what is a vote anyway? What does my measly vote count for?

All the politicians and Newsweek jumped on "the fate of Social Security" bandwagon this past week and also obsessed over the price of senior citizens' prescription medication. How does that pertain to a 21-year-old like myself? And do I really care?

Not particularly.

Is it bad to say everything that runs through my "pretty little head?"

I hope not, because here I go again.

I don't mean to be mean, but let the baby boomers and senior citizens fight for themselves. We're the ones who will be working the next 20 years while they're haggard and retired.

It sure does seem that the politicians favor the old folks though. And why? Because they're a demographic demon at more than 78 million and they do that thing called voting.

So what about a student like me? Do I have voice even though I'm not a special interest group, a corporation, a senior citizen or a Hollywood director?

Certainly not, if I'm alone. But if you put us all together in our generation, we run a close second, at a cool 72 million. Albeit some of our voting demography is still in diapers, but we could be a voice to be reckoned with.

Think about it. What are the things that you complain about? What are the things that you wish were law but think never will become law? Do you hate how much power law enforcement officials have? Do you hate taxes being taken out of your paycheck and having no idea where it all goes? Wouldn't it be better if you were given some power to allot your tax dollars to what you believed to be important?

No one pays us any attention because we don't have money or power, but we do have numbers. When everyone in our generation votes, more issues will be discussed that will affect us now and in the future.

Would you like to see the drinking age reduced to 18? I would. How about those of you who are 18-20? Would you like to have been taught a second language beginning in kindergarten, so you wouldn't feel like such a global schmuck when you meet some foreigner who speaks five languages? Or how about the legalization of marijuana? Or the federal spending for education and technology? Or increased rights to privacy? Or how much control doctors have over our bodies? (Ladies, wouldn't it be nice to get the Pill without giving your life history and taking that miserable pap smear?)

Apparently, government still thinks we're not smart enough to take care of ourselves.

Things that pertain to young people aren't being answered because by not voting the rest of the world assumes we don't care.

I care.

I don't want to wish things were different. I want them to be different. And you have 28 days to decide the next four years of your life.

I know it doesn't seem like there's much of a choice. I'm so in the middle of the road, having to choose between Bush, the Hee-Haw "fuzzy math" candidate and Gore, better known as Mr. Rogers, who'll say anything to get a vote. Sometimes I think I'll just close my eyes and just pick one.

There's always Ralph Nader. He's a guy I've been curious about, simply because no one will pay him any attention. He doesn't seem to have a lot of money, and for that, he interests me already. I wonder if all those special and powerful groups would sway him? Or would he possibly just listen to average little me?

Regardless, the choice is not Gore or Bush, or even Ralph Nader.

Jesse Ventura also said, "If you don't vote your heart and your conscience, then you're not voting."

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He's right. Voting is not about being in the most popular crowd. It's about voting for or writing in the person who you feel will best represent you. It doesn't matter if he or she is flashed all over the news.

At least I'll be voting. At least I'll be showing the senior citizens that I am a force to be reckoned with, but I can't do it by myself. I need you to close your eyes and pencil in a candidate, too.

Anne Marie Teague is a senior business administration major from Lumberton. This column was paid for in part by the NRA, the Democratic National Convention, the Right to Violence filmmakers, the pharmaceutical companies, the Whitewater Fund and the Vote Your Heart and Conscience Movement. E-mail her in the voting booth at

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