“No one ever asked to see my birth certificate!” This is a direct quote from Mitt Romney. How many times have we heard that (or something like it) in the last few months? If that is your reason for voting, I’d like to stop you right there. Like most of you, ever since President Obama was elected, I’ve pretty much heard it all.“He’s a Muslim!” cries one, and “He’s not even a citizen of this country!” slanders another.

The same empty claims are volleyed back and forth until your ears are ringing. It sounds silly, but for some reason these are the comments that come back again and again. This is ignorance at its best, and political leaders will latch on to this kind of negativity to fuel their campaigns. What’s even scarier is that the people willing to take such claims at face value are the ones who have decided, “I’m going to vote this time just so I can vote against Obama,” or “My parents are Republican, so I guess I am too.”

That tactic may have worked in past elections, but I am of the firm belief that in this one, a decision like that is extremely dangerous. Uninformed and uneducated voting? That’s like having uneducated and unprotected sex, only with politics.

Congratulations! You’re pregnant with a failing economy and you’re the baby’s father! No one to blame but yourself, and you’re paying your own child support. Tough cookie.
In all seriousness, though, it’s not hard to use Google! If you aren’t sure who to trust in this age of biased media – looking at you here, Fox News – there are numerous political fact-checkers online to aid your judgment. Politifact.com is my personal favorite, and it comes with the added benefit of such fun ratings as “Pants on fire!” What’s not to love?
I believe that it is important to make educated decisions, whether in politics, picking a school or when buying a car and house. These decisions will affect your everyday life for at least a good four years, and the impact will most likely last even longer. “Sure,” you’re thinking to yourself and rolling your eyes. “My vote doesn’t really count for anything anyway. It doesn’t matter who wins, because I don’t like either candidate.” Chances are, you don’t like either candidate because you don’t actually know as much about them as you think you do.
Even if you don’t like the candidate as a person, try to look past that (and I’m not saying character isn’t important!) and examine the policies. Decide what you agree with and what you don’t. If you find out that a particular candidate is going to infringe upon your rights, take a stand and vote against him! If your favorite news agency is slamming a candidate, take a moment to consider their reasons for doing so. What might the agency gain from doing this? More importantly, what would the opposing candidate gain from it? These are vital questions to ask yourself, and you’ll find, I think, the answers aren’t difficult to come by. Don’t fall prey to simple marketing schemes. Be pro-active, and do that thing that professors always urge you to do – think critically about your environment, and I promise you’ll be rewarded. Your rights are important, and you matter, so start believing it. This is your future, so make something of it.

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