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Political apathy in the American people

Erin Moffet / Opinions Editor

Elon University is privileged to have the resources to conduct a very well-respected poll of North Carolina residents. This allows students to get hands-on experience on how public opinion is obtained.Public opinion plays a vital role in the American government.

The most recent poll was conducted in the middle of November. This poll had many important issues to discuss.

At the time of the poll, nationally, President Bush was still suffering from extremely low approval ratings and Congress was asking for an exit plan from Iraq. On the state level, the newly adopted N.C. state lottery was coming under some scrutiny over the level of trust in who would be in charge of its funds.

Questions concerning these popular issues, along with other surrounding issues such as taxes, were asked in the survey.

It was unreal to see how many people did not participate in the survey. And it was not that they chose to just not participate in the survey; they were very rude about even being asked to do so.

Everyone should jump at the opportunity to be able to voice their opinions, especially in a forum in which the government is listening and reacting. This apathy towards participating in the political process, even just on the level of a poll, is exactly what is hurting democracy.

The introduction to the poll stated that it would last roughly eight to ten minutes. That is such a short amount of time for something with such a big impact on the government. Yet people still complained that they did not have the time to participate in the democratic process.

Other people declined to participate because they were uninterested in politics or because they did not think their opinion mattered. Some people were just annoyed by being asked to participate. These feelings that caused people not to participate are disappointing.

The government affects everyone and therefore, everyone should have an interest in it. Not necessarily in parties and candidates, but in simple things like taxes that everyone is sure to know about and have an opinion on since it affects them.

And to the people who think that their opinion does not matter:you are very wrong. It is hard for the government to listen to everyone's opinions, which is why polls are conducted. Polls are a way that the government can get a feel for the views of the American people.

So by not participating in the Elon Poll, many people missed out on a valuable opportunity to voice their opinion, where it will be evaluated by government officials.

People should not be agitated by being asked to participate, they should be thankful to have such an opportunity.
Ten minutes is not a lot to ask from someone for the importance of the results of a survey on government actions.

A democracy is defined as "rule by the people." If the people fail to take the initiative and the time to participate in the numerous forums available to them, then they are failing democracy.

Failure of democracy through peoples' apathy is the only way that peoples' opinions and participation will be remain unheard and unimportant.

So to everyone who feels that they are not an important part of the government and therefore choose not to participate, those actions are what cause the lack of importance of the common people in government actions taken after surveys like this one.

Contact Erin Moffet at opinions@elon.edu or 278-7247