I am a UF alumnus. When I was a freshman, every university across the country was embroiled in protests of the Vietnam War. Students were demonstrating and marching almost daily. They had a powerful voice and used their collective power to affect change. Today, I only see alarming apathy. I don’t see the spirited rebellion for truth, justice and humanity on UF’s campus or any other. While I truly believe democracy is in peril — and I will do my part to defend it — this is really not my fight any longer. It’s yours!
It’s put up or shut up time. The outcome of the upcoming midterm elections is critical. Your vote might be the most important of your lifetime.
What’s at stake? For starters, student loan forgiveness, promoted by President Joe Biden but being challenged in court and on the chopping block if Republicans regain control of Congress. Reproductive rights — not just reasonable limitations on abortions but even contraceptives — could be at risk as suggested by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Forcing a 10-year-old rape victim to give birth or preventing a pregnant woman with complications from obtaining needed treatment to save her life because the government set arbitrary time frames on abortion isn’t pro-life; it’s Republican governmental overreach.
Who you can love, marry and even the essence of your gender identity are at stake; so, yes, civil rights and LGBTQ rights are on the ballot. What you can read and what’s taught in schools and universities are at risk. DACA rights for students born here but not yet citizens will vanish. Climate change legislation will likely be revoked, along with funding for infrastructure — which is designed to create millions of new jobs for college graduates in the areas of architecture and construction, as well as incentives for domestic manufacturing, technology, computer science, broadband and renewable energy expansion.
Even the actual integrity of our elections would change. Legislative measures specifically designed to fight inflation and keep healthcare premiums and medications affordable would be eliminated. Under Republican control, the wealthy will get wealthier and corporations will continue to evade taxation. Gun proliferation, especially in public, will expand exponentially. Your apathy could result in the legitimization of hate, bigotry, fear and discrimination. Worst of all, Republicans will feel energized to continue to deny fair election results with corrupt measures to influence state legislatures and the Electoral College with unsupported lies.
The rights and benefits most important to your generation are just a vote away. If you don’t vote, don’t complain about the outcome.
Stuart Floyd is a UF alumnus.