I saw something in the bathroom today that legitimately pissed me off. In true Grinnell fashion, I’ve decided to write about it.
Slipping across the hall into the women’s bathroom of Norris 4th, I was pleased to see a poster emblazoned with the words “You have a right to vote. Use it.” As I read on, though, I began to see something dreadfully wrong.
“…get informed and get registered so we can re-elect President Obama…”
Maybe I’m old fashioned (or maybe it’s because I’m from one of the reddest states in the union and know what it feels like to be the odd man out), but this seems, to me, a misrepresentation of what voter registration should look like. Personally, I’m a liberal, and I’m excited to vote for Obama. But what if I weren’t? What message would this poster send me?
Get informed and get registered so we can re-elect President Obama. Does that mean I’d be wrong to vote for Romney on this campus? Would Campus Democrats still help me register if I told them that I’d be giving my vote to the right?
I understand that the Campus Democrats wrote this poster, and I understand that it is, at its core, supporting their cause. That’s all well and good. I mean it. But why disguise your message as a call for voter registration? Why not make two posters? Why limit voting rights at Grinnell to the people who already agree with the majority?
Here at Grinnell, we’re known to truly value diversity. We value diversity in birthplace, in ability, in ethnicity and sexual orientation. We take on gender issues and call out for women’s rights. Shouldn’t we support political diversity, also? I realize Grinnell is a liberal college, but that doesn’t mean EVERYONE is liberal. From what I’ve heard, being a republican at Grinnell is hard enough as it is. So why are we discouraging, or flat out ignoring, the political minority?
There must be a way to encourage students to take political action without silencing the minority vote. Campus Democrats represent a huge majority on campus. They don’t represent everyone. As Grinnellians, I think we ought to support political action in all forms, even as many of us also support Barack Obama.
I’d vote for that.
—Miriam Clayton ’15