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Student voices: Annoyed by the political process

If you have turned on your television in the past few months -- or even just walked out your front door, you have probably seen evidence of the upcoming election in November. News articles, televised satires and yard signs are already abundant and will only continue to grow in appearance as November approaches. I respect the candidates' rights to campaign, but the extent and negativity of these campaigns is truly mind-boggling to me.

You could say that my opinion doesn't matter because I am 17 and unable to vote. You could also say I don't understand the nature of elections, and that these are necessities if a politician hopes to find success. In reply, however, I could say that I was born just six months shy of qualifying to vote in this year's election. I could add that many of my friends are voting in this year's presidential election, and I have the same exact education as these voters. So I think my opinion has some worth.

Am I an expert on both candidates' economic, foreign and social policies? No, but I'd like to think I have enough sense to realize how ludicrous this entire process has become. First of all, there are only two choices. That's actually always been at the center of our country's political process. It is apparent that millions of dollars are spent for these candidates to tour the country and make fancy appearances where instead of promoting their plans for change, they just bash the other candidate. I feel that with the amount of money in play in the campaign process and the high stakes of the election, neither candidate really cares about us. They just want to win, which I think is a shame.

But I probably should stop discussing the election in particular before I offend anyone, because talking about our next potential or continuing president -- someone that unites all Americans -- is somehow off limits. Any small comment or opinion can be considered offensive or "uncalled for." If we can't discuss the election in a constructive, positive manner, without having to prove the other side completely wrong, then our system needs major adjustment. If you believe I don't have the right to say that, you should probably reread this entire column and remind yourself of the reason our country is so amazing: our freedoms.

Trust me, I've taken it all in, and most of the process has left a negative impact on me. Criticism is not an effective solution to gain popularity, despite the apparent popular opinion of most politicians. To me, this makes the entire process a discouragingly negative from the outside looking in. I'm encouraged to become involved once I'm 18, but as a minor I am told that my opinions are invalid. I am urged to vote when I am an adult, but with the current state of politics, I am instead completely discouraged. Being directly involved in such a mess is the last thing I would want to do. I can only hope that by 2016 it will be better.