Politics, peer pressure and shin-kicking

Politics, peer pressure and shin-kicking

by Kristin SimpsonSports Editor

“I’m 27. I’ve smoked, I’ve drank. I’ve done drugs… but I have never felt as much peer pressure as I feel about voting in this election.”

Some brave soul wrote that on the blank side of a postcard and then mailed it into PostSecret. Should you be lucky-or revealing-enough, you may get to see your contribution to this community art project plastered on the web for all to see. I, along with many other curious minds, check every Sunday to see the freshly-posted confessions. I always seem to find at least one I can relate to, and this one seemed to be an exceptionally-applicable one.

As I look back at this election cycle, I cannot even fathom the number of times I wished it would end. Judge me however you choose, but I feel like this helping of campaigns went on for an eternity. Now don’t get me wrong, I like politics. I find this special science that requires no tedious hours of experiments in a foul-smelling lab to be fascinating in all of its intricate details.

However, I am not a politician-worshiper. I don’t make a certain politician the center of my universe. I’m not necessarily saying it’s a bad thing. I’m just giving you a feel for where I stand. And I promise you this: you don’t have to worry about what I might do to myself if my chosen candidate does not succeed. My world will go on should the person I didn’t vote for take office.

But I fear this more apathetic attitude, although I like to consider it fairly normal, has gotten me, and plenty of others, caught in an entanglement of civic duty. I am a firm believer in the power of voting and strongly encourage those of age to always make a date with a booth on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November every four years. It’s who you’ll give the glory of a swift pencil mark to that gets people antsy.

I don’t have anything against the art of persuasion. I believe that every voice has the right to be heard. I understand that campaigning is a vital part of the election process. But I think there is a line, and I think it has been crossed, more than once, this election.

You can’t tell me that peer pressure is the single best thing that has ever happened to our life-sustaining sphere of matter. There has been entirely too much of it this time around. I know of people who felt obligated to vote for someone, not because that’s who they favored, but because they were worried a certain nagger would be angry if they didn’t. That’s not what I thought voting was about.

I thought voting, in its purest essence, was allowing each and every person of age to personally choose who they wanted to lead the country. Forcing a politician on a peer is not exactly what I had in mind. Granted, part of that all comes back to the methods of a successful campaign. But being so overzealous about making sure you know or have a say in everyone’s votes will only turn people away, not attract them to your cause.

Information does not require persuasion. Facts need no hustling. In a perfect, non-existent world, we could all calmly and politely share knowledge about the contenders. But politics demands passion, and at high levels. So, alas, maybe this is how it has to be. Maybe heckling that one kid sitting three seats back from you in class was the most effective way for you to get your candidate into office. But regardless of your persuasive medium of choice, I think it might do the country some good to retire from the art of campaigning for a few years.

Sure, I’ll miss some of the witty commercials that left me talking to the TV. Although I probably shouldn’t make shouting “touché!” to the screen a habit. I’ll miss the feeling that everyone is talking about the same thing, joining in on a common cause that consumes citizens with a collective anxiety from sea to shining sea. But I think we could all use a break from the political mumbo-jumbo and relax for a little while. So next time around, vote for your guy or gal, and don’t let someone else guide your pencil. If they try, a swift kick to the shin should do the trick.