This election year is a special one: the first time this particular body of Amherst students will experience a presidential election on campus.
This election marks an intersection too; it is a means through which the community at Amherst intersects with the world at large. We bring what Amherst gives us to the voting booth, to determine the course of this country and the role of government in our lives.
First, we ask students to register. It’s an easy but landmark step towards civic engagement as a responsible and mature citizen — something which forms the foundation for the need for a liberal arts education like ours.
Second, we ask students to register in their hometowns. It’s tempting to register to vote locally here in this little town of Amherst, Mass., but we believe true democracy comes from the roots — grassroots and our own roots: in our hometowns, our homes, the people with whom and the places where we grew up. The political is inherently personal. So we urge students to pick up an absentee ballot and make a difference in their hometowns. And perhaps, for some of us, that town is indeed Amherst — whether we grew up here or have grown to call this place home.
We urge students to see issues for what they really are — the relationship between people, between our communities and the state that affects it. Not all conflicts exist at the national level, nor are conflicts necessarily the most important just because they are national. Become invested in the interests of your community and affect change not by soliciting the violence of federal agents, but by choosing the words of your town mayor or Justice of the Peace.
We ask students to vote with the thorough deliberation of a major life decision, as it is. It’s a reflection of our innermost conscience; it is the sum of our deliberations, our reason and their application to all the greatest questions in life.
Become informed of your choices and, more importantly, understand the consequences of your choices. Do not be blinded by dichotomies; refuse to contribute to a system that fails you and your ideals; reward your elected officials fairly, based on objective criticism, not campaign rhetoric.
How you choose to exercise the power of the vote is up to you. This is the real choice of 2012.