Written by: Klaire Tan
2012 A.D.: The world is in a sorry state.
America’s economy is struggling to stay afloat; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national debt has passed $16 trillion, and 12.1 million Americans are unemployed. The rest of the world isn’t faring much better. In and around the Arabian Peninsula, ongoing attempts to achieve democracy have spilled the blood of countless individuals. In Europe, a financial crisis has left nations with recession and debt. All the while, various countries around the globe rush to create and arm themselves with nuclear weapons. However, despite all the problems that stand before us, there’s another threat out there, one rarely addressed or realized: political apathy.
Defined as indifference towards politics, political apathy is an unrecognized threat that plagues all countries, including America. In the presidential election of 2008, only 57 percent of our eligible population voted. Currently, voter turnout rarely surpasses 60 percent at elections all around the world. Politics have constantly attempted to rally the democratic spirit. Repeatedly reminding people to take advantage of their right to vote however doesn’t inspire action. Individuals must understand that the immorality of political apathy does not lie in the lack of fulfillment of civic duties. Instead, political apathy is an issue, threat and crime because of its offense against society.
The most immediate impact of political apathy on a country is a decline in political involvement, which at first may appear harmless. As involvement and interest in government and politics declines, the element of humanity is taken away from government, and politics is no longer is of, by, or for the people. Without the expression of real individuals and their concerns, government stops being a living entity of the people and becomes a mindless machine. What is left is a nation at a standstill and a society abandoned. If such a government faced the dilemmas of its people, would it be able to produce a response tailored to popular needs, or a response at all? Will jobs suddenly pop up for those 12.1 million Americans lacking one? Will that $16 trillion debt just vanish?
In addition, political apathy places the future of society in danger. Political apathy is more than choosing not to be involved in politics, it is a surrender of social investment. Though we may live in the supposedly enlightened 21st century, flaws persist in society: including inequality, discrimination and violence. The rights and current level of equality we have today were earned by those who were willing to step up and fight for them. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle.” Political apathy will leave us stranded right where we are, unable to move forward. Mankind will slowly watch its future disappear, each of us accomplices to the death of humanity.
Ultimately, this generation is the future of both America and the world. If we want change, we must be the change. However, in the 2012 presidential election, we are still underage and are limited to being idle spectators rather than participants. But give another four years, and our time will come. So be ready, my friends. When 2016 arrives and the booths open up, I expect to see you all there.