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YOUNG BLOOD

Election face-off

05:03 AM May 21, 2019

I went home from my precinct with my chest filled to the brim with pride that I did something right for my country. The recently aired “Game of Thrones” episode that, in my opinion, ruined seven seasons of character development did not in the least bit dampen my spirit.

This was until a few hours later, when I saw Facebook statuses and various tweets regarding the election results. My frustration started to build up, much like Daenerys slowly going mad in the show. People were arguing online again, blaming each other for what they said were stupid choices for candidates. At this moment, I realized that the social media world we reside in actually has very little reach.

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In all honesty, we should stop blaming those who voted for plunderers, apologists or, worse, human rights violators. They simply did not know better. These were household names they were choosing—celebrities, relatives of past lawmakers, or candidates with bottomless money to get their names in the news a lot, even if voters had no idea why they were in the news in the first place.

Our tendency is to stick to what is familiar. Science has discovered that we were herd animals that later developed into social ones. It’s rather ironic, though, that in this day and age when social media platforms are so commonplace, many people still follow the herd.

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Still, despite the rise of social media, not a lot of people have the means to read about the current events in our country. And even when they do read or hear about what is going on, there is still a high chance they do not understand how this will affect the country and their individual lives.

These people are our families and friends who think that if events do not affect them directly, they can just ignore them and let the people in office settle these things themselves. Because God knows, they have problems of their own. They can’t be bothered to spare a few minutes of research or engagement in discourse, because they have to do overtime to pay overdue bills and put food on the table. Priorities, right?

This is the part where we dropped the ball.

There is no doubt that voter education in our country is not a priority. I saw obliviousness in the eyes of some voters at my precinct as they went over the names on the ballot. I saw it again in friends who messaged me a few hours before election day, asking about the different platforms of those running for office. I saw it in my family, who just copied from the list of a relative they deemed as knowledgeable just because he was older, not even questioning if the qualifications and values of the candidates on that list would be the same as theirs.

It’s our job to educate. Not to ridicule and act as if we are superior because we voted for people who, to our minds, are capable of being just and honest lawmakers. If anything, we failed in our role as educated voters. We didn’t fail in making our votes count, that’s for sure. But we failed in making our voices heard and understood by those closest to us—those with whom we share our homes and rides and workplaces daily.

Being aware of and talking about national matters do not have to be confined to social media. Let’s stop this elitist mindset of feeling superior or relevant just because we supported someone with legitimate credentials. If anything, we should take the election results as a massive hint that we need to initiate a healthy dialogue with other people around us on what a responsible voter should consider in choosing leaders for our country. Open up
conversations at the dinner table even if it means receiving looks that all but shout “you’re too young, you would not understand!”—despite my having voted in two elections now, anyway.

The votes have been tallied and my heart aches for the worthy, capable candidates shunted to the sidelines. We yearned for change, but our modern methods of communication and dialogue are not as effective, or as far-reaching, as we thought. Just because something is trending doesn’t mean the rest of the nation gets to see it as well.

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Are we brave enough to set aside our differences, turn off our phones for once and discuss our country’s future with each other face to face?

N.M. Ramos, 22, is a medical technology graduate.

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TAGS: 2019 elections, N.M. Ramos, voter education, voting wisely, Young Blood
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