BC professors express importance of vote

Omar Oseguera, Photo and Multimedia Editor

With the elections coming up this November, Bakersfield College professors spoke on voting, it’s importance, and what it means for students.

Steven Holmes, professor of political science at BC, felt that voting is always important.

“Elections are the essential component of any true Democracy,” explained Holmes. “It gives people the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns and to choose those individuals that they wish to govern them.”

BC Philosophy Department chair Reggie Williams also gave his take on the importance of voting.

“I think voting is one aspect of being informed,” said Williams. “Voting is an activity, an action. Usually when we do things, rather than just talk about them, it forces us to really think through on a deeper level what we believe. So I take voting to be the kind of activity where it channels us, it focuses us and it makes us actually think through our views on politics and social issues.”

Williams also believed that although voting gives people a voice and a role in shaping society, voting also forces people to, “a new level of seriousness on [their] thinking.”

The voting process itself is fairly quick, but there are a variety of things on the California ballot to consider, such as 11 propositions, state senator, state representative, member of the state Assembly, Board of Education member and of course, the president and vice president.

With all of these things to vote on, both state and national, some may wonder whether they are equally important.

Holmes and Williams elaborated on whether voting for one thing would be more important than another.

“On one hand I think there’s a clear sense in which it’s the local issues that are probably more important because of the numbers,” explained Williams.

“Your one vote on a local level counts for a much bigger percentage, even though it’s still small. There is a much bigger say in respect to the local scene.

“On the other hand, if the local issues are fairly unique to the region, then the other side of it is that the national level or state level are more important because they affect that many more people. At the end of the day I think they are both very important.”

Holmes continued on the subject.

“I think voting for both candidates and propositions carry equal weight,” said Holmes. “The propositions that are appearing on our ballots are there because the people you have elected most likely haven’t done their job. Therefore it is giving people the opportunity to have the final say on if that is the type of law they wish to live by.”

Holmes proceeded to break down the rise in propositions.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of propositions over the last 40 years,” said Holmes. “If you go back into the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, you would only find maybe two or three propositions on a ballot at any given time.

“Today you are seeing maybe 7-10 propositions. Part of that is that we may have a legislature that is not necessarily getting the work done, so the people of America turn the initiative to have the final say.

“Both have a very serious impact on our lives,” he said.

In the voting world, there are always those who feel passionately about voting, and those who don’t do it, don’t care, or are unaware of the issues. The latter seems to apply to most young adults, like college students.

“The fact of the matter is that an 18-25 year old [doesn’t] look deep enough into the effects of policies and understand the impacts they have in our lives, and therefore it is just easier to reject things,” said Holmes. “A lot of things are taken care of in a protective environment for an 18-25 year old, so they don’t really face the realities of life.

“Having to pay insurance, huge water and electric bills, having to pay health insurance policies; all of this is regulated by government yet they haven’t experienced most of that because they live in a somewhat protected environment.”

Williams also gave his view on the subject, describing reasons why young people may be so distanced from voting.

“I think the reason a lot of people don’t vote is this sense of ‘what’s the point?’ and ‘it doesn’t matter,’ and given the numbers, that’s one way we can think about it,” said Williams. “Also, things may seem really screwed up no matter who’s in office, that sort of thing.

“I totally understand those points, but now, for instance with Prop. 30, I think we are seeing really literally how different things can go.”

Holmes concluded with his personal view on how politics work.

“I think the general idea is that politics is a game, life is a game,” he said. “If you don’t show up you have no chance of winning, and if you show up underprepared you’re probably going to get beat.”