Editorial: Opinions without works are dead

Editorial Board

At a campaign stop Tuesday in New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, governor of Texas, asked for the support of audience members who would be 21 years old by the election. Considering that the voting age is 18, we hope he was not suggesting that he would only receive the support of the more inebriated voting population.

In all seriousness, however, the fact that voting is a serious business can never be stressed enough, and students should take advantage of a right other students were denied during times just as troubling as our own.

The 26th Amendment to our Constitution guarantees the right of legal adults to vote, even the ones who cannot indulge in drinking. That amendment was adopted in the wake of the Vietnam War protests that thousands of students participated in. To be so unengaged in politics that you never vote, know who the candidates are or know what the issues are this time around is to ignore the struggles of people who have gone before you.

On Tuesday, many students have an opportunity to vote in a runoff election for the Ames City Council. Over Christmas break, the Iowa caucuses will occur. And while those of the Democratic Party will be less interesting, since they have a sitting president, the Republican Party caucuses, with their eight candidates to choose from, are sure to be interesting.

You have the right to vote because the students of our parents’ generation realized that this world, even the jungles of Southeast Asia, belongs to them just as much as it belongs to the movers and shakers who know more than them or the parents who raised them. They decided they needed to stand up for what they believed in.

And should you decide to vote, do so with some awareness of what you’re doing. Don’t walk into the voting booth hungover. Don’t walk into the voting booth totally ignorant of the names that will be on the ballot. Don’t just guess as if voting is a multiple choice test. It’s not. It’s bigger than that.

The offices people run for, whether the policies they make get into the news or not, are important. From making parking regulations and property taxes to speed limits and road repair, city offices matter.

On our editorial adviser’s office door is a bumper sticker that says, “Talk is cheap. Free speech isn’t.” That is true. Perhaps, more importantly, free speech is like faith: Without works, it is dead. For your opinions and words to have any meaning or existence in the world, you need to participate. If you decide not to, just make sure you don’t complain — you had a chance. You have a chance.