It’s time to start thinking about Michigan’s gubernatorial race

Shae Slaughter

The political climate is something new to many of us Grand Valley State University students. In fact, some freshmen probably can’t even vote yet. But regardless of your age, if you weren’t raised in a politically active family, chances are that through primary school you didn’t learn much more than the three branches of government and the presidents on Mount Rushmore. With the 2018 elections coming up, specifically the race for Michigan’s next governor, now is the time to start learning about our political system and thinking about how you’re going to vote.

Most of us, myself included, probably have not yet had the chance to vote in a Michigan gubernatorial race. In November 2014, I was only 17, and I didn’t have the slightest clue about what policies I thought would suit our nation best. In the last four years, I’ve made it a point to try to learn by reading and listening to information from different sides of each policy debate. The only thing worse than not voting is voting without a real clue of what you’re helping to decide.

So, for those of you first-timers like myself, I decided to do some of the research for you. First things first, the next election will take place this upcoming November, so registering to vote is a must. Don’t listen to what people say; your millennial vote does matter, even if it has to compete with the Baby Boomers’. You really can effect change one vote at a time. For starters, you can be responsible for helping to elect our state’s leader for at least the next four years. 

Up next is one of the most important parts of politics: the candidates. Michigan has never had a black governor, a Muslim governor or an Indian-American governor, not to mention that the number of women to hold the office has been pretty slim, too. But, as of now, all of those groupings of people are in the race. Yes, they’re all Democrats, but it is still a pool of diversity we don’t see nearly often enough.

When you’re considering for whom to vote, race, gender or religion should definitely not be the deciding factor, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate politics as they start to broaden their horizons. It’s no secret that our political system has been criticized for being disproportionately full of old white men. To me, it is awesome to see a state like Michigan take a step toward the future. 

Still, the most important thing to consider is where each candidate stands on policies. Chances are that you will not be able to find a candidate who perfectly lines up with each and every one of your viewpoints because politics are just too diverse. Instead, you need to decide on the issues that matter the most to you and find out who aligns with them. After that, it is always important to look into your candidate’s background. Experience matters, and so do their past choices, so look at them closely. 

Sure, the race is still eight months away and there’s a primary that has to take place before the actual election, but it’s important to start thinking about it now. I know how college students work, and you won’t be able to procrastinate registering to vote until the morning of the election. You also can’t expect to be an informed voter if you “SparkNotes” each candidate’s background. As all of our professors say, do your homework now, and you’ll get a better result later.