Stop complaining and start campaigning

Free beer! Naked! Sex! Does that get your attention?

With presidential nominees more or less finalized and congressional campaigns taking off, politicians are going to work toward getting students’ attention for elections late in the year.

Luckily for us, Obama doesn’t have a saxophone, and so far McCain hasn’t sported a “Vote or die” T-shirt yet. But with November looming, campaigns are only going to heat up. If you’re already sick of hearing about “sustainability” and how to be more “eco-friendly,” too bad. Prepare to be bombarded.

Students often complain about how the media handle issues. Often they feel that the press exaggerates and politicians reiterate issues that have far less significance in their lives than all the repetition would imply.

According to the University of Maryland’s youth voter research institute, 20.9 million people in the 18-29 age demographic turned out to vote in 2004, up from 16.3 million in 2000. While a surge in voters is wonderful, those numbers from 2004 only represent about 25 percent of the total population of young people in the U.S. Starting a dialogue between young people about issues they are concerned about is the surest way to get more students to vote.

But better than one vote is one dedicated volunteer. As college students, few of us have the funds to financially support the causes of leaders we believe in. What is possible, and what campaign groups are eager for, is for young individuals to trade in volunteer time for the opportunity to ensure that issues that are personally important are addressed.

Many young adults have friends or family in Iraq, our economy is in debt, and students are struggling to cope with the high costs of energy and food. Graduating students are worried about finding quality jobs at the end of an expensive college run. The young voters of the U.S. are worried, and they’re ready to take action.

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Even with summer giving students a break, there’s still plenty to be done. Many pick up extra jobs with long hours in an effort to make enough money to survive during the school year. But students should take time to canvass and make sure that the issues they want to be heard are heard.

With all the social networking sites available, it’s never been easier to communicate with others, focus efforts and rally the troops. Finding a way to volunteer for the campaign of your choice, no matter what party affiliation, is a few keystrokes and mouse clicks away.

So get out, get heard, and make sure that politicians – and the people – address the issues that are important to you.