Let Me Explain: Silent mouths have zero impact

I’m ready. Let me explain.

In less than a year, we’re electing a new president. In less than a year, our new president could make history. Or, our new president could be another white guy. But you have a choice and a voice in this whole democratic debacle. Take advantage of it.

College students are categorized by our emblematic apathy-and we seem to be OK with this. Our high school classmates left graduation for God knows where, and where are the protests? Where are the riots and the demonstrations? Where is the free love and experimentation of 710 Ashbury, man?

This isn’t 1967. We didn’t march into a foreign country with our egos at the ends of our guns, followed by more and more troops under the direction of an increasingly unpopular commander in chief. But we are at a discontented turning point: This is the first time in 80 years that an incumbent president or vice president is not running for President of the United States. The new boss will perform a janitor’s job, cleaning up the spillage of vetoed health-care bills and all things Iraq-related. The real job will be turning our frowns upside down, boosting our spirits and bringing back some jollies.

Our internships, jobs and education have revealed a disgusting fact: Adults can act like children. They can be petty, conniving and rude, and they hit below the belt. The only adults I’ve come to trust are the peers in my age group because, as far as I can tell, they are the only adults who act like adults.

Maybe it’s time for a new counterculture of students to rebel against another war but, I fear, our mindset is cemented in “We can’t change anything” or “They’ll do it for us.” Guess what, sweetcheeks: They aren’t necessarily thinking about you. They’re out on the trail catering to our upper-class mommies and daddies because you wouldn’t skip class or turn off Bravo to attend their rally.

Barack Obama spoke at Union Station Friday, Oct. 26, and Rudy Giuliani was in St. Charles Monday, Nov. 12. Were you there? If not, were you at a rally for another candidate? Were you conducting research on CNN.com’s Election Center 2008? Were you planning a trip to the Feb. 5 presidential primaries?

Where are we in this election? Our presence, active or inactive, is determined by our choices and priorities.

Speak up. Flannery O’Connor said that “to the hard of hearing, you shout”; continue to get ideas and opinions out there and, eventually, the culture will be so inundated with our ideas that there will be no choice but to listen.

Perhaps the problem now is that not enough young people feel that there is anything to shout about, but there’s always something to shout about. Find your cause: the war in Iraq, health care, same-sex marriages, immigration, social security, environmentalism, something, anything . Define yourself, or someone else will define you.

The Democratic-led Joint Economic Committee’s Tuesday, Nov. 13, report estimated that the total costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be $1.6 trillion by 2009. It seems that all we’re worried about is securing jobs after graduation, and these numbers are just a string of zeroes. But I guarantee that if the draft were reinstated, you-my fellow adults-and I would be yelling about it.

Inform yourself. Watch the debates and take notes. Ask the right questions. Talk to your friends. Register to vote. Finally-and this is the kicker, folks-make it to a polling location next November. Stand in line for hours with other disgruntled citizens who are somewhat put at ease by getting out of work, if only to stand in line.

Jack Bauer won’t get us out of this one. It’s up to us.