Crying for Democracy
On November 6, 2012, students walked the Ithaca College campus buzzing about more than just weekend plans and the upcoming Cortaca Jug: it was Election Day.
The general reaction of the campus seemed to be one of celebration following Tuesday’s late-night results, but can we really assume the political orientation of the school based on its reputation and location?
It turns out that, yes, Ithaca is just as liberal as it is said to be.
In a survey of Ithaca College students, 85 percent voted for Barack Obama in this year’s presidential election — much higher than the country’s near-50/50 split between the democratic and republican candidates. Despite this overwhelming majority, only about 60 percent of the surveyed students reported that they aligned themselves with a political party.
According to Fox News, the top two issues for this election were federal spending and the economy. However, most IC students who voted for Obama voiced their opinions about his socially liberal agenda versus Romney’s more conservative and oppressive social stance.
One freshman student said:
“I voted for Obama to stay in office largely because his views on social issues align with my own better than Romney's did. I felt that as a college girl, voting for the Republican ticket in this election would have been a vote against my own rights regarding women's health and reproductive issues. This wasn't the only reason behind my decision, but it was a significant one.”
Another student put it more blatantly: “I didn't particularly feel like having a discriminatory president in office.”
Others expressed their difficulty in deciding whom to vote for, saying that they disagreed with both Obama and Romney. For some students, this was enough to keep them from voting. For others, the deciding factor was simply whether they thought one candidate would hurt the country less. A student who voted for Obama said, “I saw him as the lesser of two evils — I voted for him out of fear of the other option.”
Because Ithaca is known for having a welcoming LGBT community, it’s not surprising that some IC students made their decision based on specific issues like gay marriage:
“I think the results are representative of the US population — totally and completely split, with a few wavering voters like myself. I voted for Barack Obama because I want to be able to stand at my teammates' weddings when they get married to the girls of their dreams. No one should have the right of love taken away from them.”
A handful of students expressed desire to vote for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, but thought it would only have worth as a “symbolic gesture,” and not as a vote.
Our country is so completely polarized by the ongoing Democrat vs. Republican debate that it seems to be leaving even the most liberal, open-minded college students with little hope for breaking the binary cycle we’ve clung to for so many years. Democracy isn’t meant to be a system that forces the population to choose from the lesser of two evils. As can be seen from the dozens of states now petitioning for secession, the country is crying for help — and crying for democracy.
Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/usconsulatechennai/8166525866/