Democracy needs everyone’s voice

Whether or not you agree with his policies, Barack Obama’s last public speech in Chicago left us with plenty to dwell on. As we return to campus and settle into routine, the editorial staff of The Polytechnic thinks back to a particular line of Obama’s speech: “… for all of our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in democracy: citizen… that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime.”

Obama’s message is one relevant to our own Rensselaer Union. Looking at those involved in student government, we see the same familiar faces, whose opinions and mannerisms are so well known they have become caricatures. We see crossover between branches during committee meetings; many members attend the meetings of other committees. Our Grand Marshal even struggles to fill committee chairperson seats, to the point that those already ingrained in the system take up further responsibility.

Democracy works when you, the citizen, student, and member of the Union, participate. Yes, we elect members of our community to represent us and our interests, but they cannot do it alone. Brainstorming, researching, meeting, discussing, writing, and rewriting proposals are time-consuming tasks in their already-overloaded lives. We see the work our student government does on our behalf day in and day out, all for our benefit, and we see how much more is left to be done. Student government needs all the help it can get. The more people who participate, who bring their ideas and experiences, the better all of our lives as students become. Sacrificing an hour per week to attend a committee meeting can make all the difference.