Tune in, get informed


Tomorrow night, Republican candidate Mitt Romney will face off against Democratic nominee and current president Barack Obama in this year’s first hour-long, nationally televised presidential debate. The occasion will provide a much needed opportunity for at least two groups in the United States: the candidates themselves, to lay out clearly and succinctly their respective policies and visions for the future of the country; and voters, to inform themselves of those policies and visions. Students especially should make it a point to tune in Wednesday night.

While presidential debates consistently remain important facets of the general election year in and year out, this year’s may prove particularly decisive in charting the course for the remainder of the campaign. Thus far, voters have been given little in the way of concrete and unambiguous information relating to the candidates and their platforms. Both Romney and Obama’s messages have come across murky at best, clouded by personal attacks and marred by political gaffes on both sides. Under the national spotlight, each candidate will be forced to espouse his own personality, along with a comprehensive and coherent platform. It’s for this reason that our own Gov. Chris Christie has called tomorrow night’s debate the “restart of this campaign.”

In the end, however, the responsibility belongs to voters to use this opportunity as a way to get informed. At the University, campus groups like Rutgers University Student Assembly and national organizations like Rock the Vote have worked relentlessly to get student voters registered in time for the November elections. Yet all of this work is done in vain if voters themselves fail to make it a point to make their vote count — which means educating themselves on the issues and making informed decisions. Tuning in to the presidential debate is one such way to accomplish this task.

With this in mind, students would do well to set aside an hour or two tomorrow night to watch the debate. The success of a democratic society necessarily depends on an informed voter population, and as students, we should not use our age or this semester’s course work load as an excuse to make ill-informed decisions, or worse, none at all.

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