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The Northerner

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Keith Wilson

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I am 24 years old and I voted for the first time Nov. 4. I wasn’t alone. The airwaves are filled with stories of people, young and old, who were finally convinced, after lifetimes of apathy or indecision, to get up and vote. But as I walked down the stairs of the church, candidate in mind, and moved closer and closer to the voting booth, I was a little scared.

Not scared because I was unsure of my choice (although I don’t blame anyone for feeling that, no matter whom they chose) but scared because I had no idea what I should know about voting itself. Would it be a computer screen? One of those complicated sounding punch cards they talked about Florida having when all those votes went missing? Did I need my ID? Anything else?

It’s interesting that in my time in high school, I managed to have a class that culminated in my creation of a plastic keychain with my name engraved in it and sat through two years as a “typesetter” for my journalism class, but never had a single class that explained to me the differences between democrats or republicans. Don’t worry about me, I got my act together, but why wasn’t I required to take an American politics class? I’m not even sure one was offered.

It wasn’t until college that I learned what the GOP was, learned about so-called liberal and conservative stances. When the first election that I was old enough to vote in rolled around, I had watched every debate I could between Kerry and Bush, I had aced my American politics class, but I didn’t vote. I wasn’t even sure how to find out if I was already registered to vote.

I am still ashamed of how little I knew coming out of high school about my own country’s politics, but there was definitely a problem at my high school, and I’m sure mine was not the only one. American politics should be its own class, and it should be required in every school. It is our choice whether or not we vote. But when I hear chatter behind me in class the day after election stating that our founding father’s would be rolling in their graves right now, it just reminds me that many of us are learning our politics (and history) off the back of cereal boxes, from hearsay and sitcoms and rumors.

It’s one thing to elect a president and feel betrayed when his incompetence destroys America’s image in the world and kills a still untold amount of Americans. But it’s what we should expect when our country betrays us by requiring Physical Education but not American Politics.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
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