As we plod through the Republican primaries and steadily approach the 2012 presidential election, several key issues continue not only to plague our collective conscience, but also to stifle any hope for complete progress. The political arena has responded garishly, with rampant partisanship demonstrated by a gridlocked Congress on issues from taxes to Social Security. These persistent ideological divides have thus set the public sector on a path riddled with polar perceptions amidst a bleak social environment.
More than half of America’s recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed; Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of reproductive health care services in this country, is facing moral and political attacks from all sides; and the legalization of same-sex marriage, the tragic instances of racial violence and the enduring debate over immigration are still part of our national awareness. At the point where unemployment, health care, gay rights and racial discrimination all constitute a perpetual and immediate web of contentious concerns, the consideration of who our next Commander-in-Chief will be is a vital one.
With Rick Santorum’s recent withdrawal from the primaries, Mitt Romney looking to be the likely party nominee, and with the general election only months away, these decisive issues will surely frame the public’s political discourse. This means one very obvious, very important and very consequential thing: women, minorities and college students will be greatly implicated in whatever ends up happening this November. Since a substantially large portion of either candidate’s voter base represents all three demographics, questions about the condition of the economy, the politicization of the female body and the plight of marginalized groups are not only relevant, but also requisite. Moreover, with ensuing debates over LGBT rights, another segment of the population will be necessarily affected by the anticipated political contest between Romney and Obama.
Highlighting greater anxieties about the environment, equality and the economy, the upcoming election will perhaps be just as monumental as 2008’s. Like the race between President Obama and Senator John McCain the inevitable choice between Obama and Romney will be an inherent game changer — if Obama wins, his intended course in resolving the issues of his time must not only be more impassioned, but also more exhaustive, proving to voters along both party lines that his second term will see even more historic reform. If Romney wins, the American political, social and economic spheres will see an acute transmutation in all regards.
So where does that leave women, minorities and college students — this election’s critical voting base?
In a perfect world, it means increased social movements on behalf of an earnest and informed public, particularly among young people; it means an unconditional exercise in participatory democracy. As the assured inheritors of whatever policies either candidate passes, our stake in the upcoming election is considerable. Now is when apathetic politics are unacceptable. Now is when our voice — our vote — is most imperative. Now is the time.