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The Blue & Gray Press | October 22, 2018

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Election’s End Should Not Impair Activism

By JONATHAN POLSON

Well, it’s official. We have survived the 2012 election.

I’ll admit, there were a few moments when I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. There were times when I found myself scrolling through endless political tweets, drowning in a sea of pamphlets and brochures and hearing my television air back-to-back campaign attack ads when I couldn’t help but think, “This is the end of the world.”

But here we are, alive and well on Nov. 8, with a winner and a loser and, surprisingly, the world has not collapsed.

President Barack Obama has been given another four years, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney conceded with class.

So now what? Now that we’re done with the speeches and the debates and the commercials, what are we going to spend our time talking about? What will fill the void left in the endless news-cycle that has been consumed by campaign sound bites and slip-ups for the past year and a half? What will we devote our time and angry tweets towards? Do we now, finally, focus our attention on Kim and Kanye’s future?

Maybe it’s that this year marked the first time that many of my peers and I were able to vote, but I have never seen the people around me so inflamed with passion for the state of our good country.

Personally, I was happy to see everyone, especially young people, so passionate about what they believed in, but many times I found myself thinking that the enthusiasm was unfortunately correlated with the current event, and that, come Nov. 7, it would all die out.

We have chosen a president, and it came with many strong, varying opinions. According to an early National Exit Poll conducted by Edison Research, voters from ages 18 to 29 represented 19 percent of the national electorate. Young people have been passionate about their candidates and their beliefs over the past few months, and the movement to vote was major.

However, this enthusiasm for government and democracy cannot end here. As Barack Obama properly said in his acceptance speech, “The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote.”

We cannot halt our passion because the issues at stake fall back into the daily news cycle that so many ignore. We cannot forget that we still have a say in the future, even when we are not voting for the highest position in office. We cannot give up on what we personally believe in simply because the presidential choice has been made.

As young people, the future is ours and is about us. This includes the future of political parties, government and activism. There is no doubt that ideas are progressing and that young minds are open to more change, but we must put this into practice.

Succeeding in voting your chosen candidate into office does not mean, “We did it.”

These next four years are a crucial time for the rebuilding, improvement and advancement of our country. There are still many things to be accomplished, and we cannot forget that there is so much we can do to help.

It is time to work hard for the things you believe in and the rights you demand. You can place your passion into fighting for your opinions and rights the same way you fought for your candidate. Continue discussion of your views with disbelievers, with fellow believers and with the people in government that represent your voice.

Here we are, with a decided winner, and I hope that we do not fall into four more years of apathy and dissatisfaction until 2016, when it is, once again, time for “change.” Change began with whichever presidential candidate you voted for on Nov. 6, and it will continue if you fight for it with the strength and fury you exhibited in the past few months.