Making My Vote Count

As a young voter, I felt immense pressure from the media to follow a certain path during the primaries. I intended to cast my vote for Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries, however, pressure from the media made me unsure. I felt nudged toward Hillary Clinton since I am a woman. I felt that even though I agreed with Obama’s policies and principles, I was being disloyal to the female population by not pushing for a female in the White House.
“Americans are so patriotic during elections. It’s exciting, but the media really blows the political stereotypes out of proportion and makes it hard for the voters to see the candidates for who they really are,” says freshman film major and international student Olympia Kiriakou. Her words seem to describe the feelings of most American students, including myself. 

Looking back, I am extremely offended that anyone tried to sway my political opinion. The way I see it, my vote is my expression of who I am and what I believe in. Just because I am a woman doesn’t mean I must vote for one. The same goes for everyone.

It’s not fair that the media assumes that just because a black man is running for president, all blacks will vote for him.  Part of being free is being guaranteed that your political opinions will not be prejudged on the basis of your sex or skin color.

Statistics are easily manipulated to push certain groups to vote for certain candidates, like women for Hillary Clinton, blacks for Barack Obama, and even older, wealthier people for John McCain. These are all unfair stereotypes, but polls and surveys can be conducted to get multiple answers out of one voter, giving the pollsters plenty of information to twist around. 

Brittany Savino, a freshman nursing major, believes the candidates “danced around the issues that mattered and promoted the stereotypical images that the media created.” 

And let us not forget the ever-present celebrity influence. Many view the turning point in the campaign trail as the point when Oprah Winfrey announced that Barack Obama had her vote. This brought two highly sought after groups of voters — minorities and women — together under the same candidate.

Should the media be allowed to use manipulative techniques to sway voters one way or the other? To me, the answer is a firm no. The reason we have a voting system is to give the citizens of our nation a chance to give their unbiased opinions and have them count. But since the government cannot directly interfere with our votes (though some have tried), the media will be next to step up to the plate.

There may never be a truly fair system but it is our responsibility as American citizens to educate ourselves and try to make our choices free of influence. I know that on Nov. 4, 2008, I made a choice based on what I wanted, and because of this I feel my vote truly counted.