The Silent Voter That is Still Forgotten

It’s hard enough being a democratic voter in the predominantly republican state of Georgia, but nothing compares to being a left side voter in the small southern town of Statesboro. While we as Americans understand, or should understand, that there are two different views that make up our country and that neither beliefs are incorrect, Statesboro takes narrow minded to a whole new level. This small cotton-farming town in the south east corner of the state was and is still, not prepared for the presence of a semi-large university holding around 23,000 students August-May to be apart of their dynamic. Once entering the town you can almost feel the love of guns, the demand for small government, and the usual presence of some form of prejudice. While back in 1870 when the town was first beginning and the 33 people that resided in it more than likely shared the same views, we as a community can’t expect the same from the now 30,000+ residents that call Statesboro home.

Georgia Southern University located in Statesboro, Georgia, a southeastern rural town.

Nationally the news explains to us as Americans, that the reason Trump’s victory for the position of United States President was so surprising, was because of the silent voters in our nation that felt embarrassed or judged for voting for him. While there is no doubt in my mind that that is correct on a national level, in the town of Statesboro the roles are reversed. If you look hard enough, and I mean hard, you may be able to find the lone blue heart in a sea of red. The only issue is that many times because of the dynamic of the population that makes up Statesboro, they are unable to, or feel uncomfortable speaking out on their thoughts and beliefs. This is similar if not identical to that of the Trump supporters nationally.

To prove this point I “took to the streets” in a sense, and did some investigating. I approached the liberal voters that I knew in this little town of mine and asked them a few questions revolving around their thoughts and feelings on this topic.

Collin Patrick; Freshman Georgia Southern Student

Those who I talked to seemed to have about the same responses to the questions. When asked if they felt silenced or unable to share their opinions because of where they lived, many claimed that they did in fact feel silenced because of the fact that they lived in Statesboro. As stated by one, “It’s a shame that we can’t all come together and respect each others opinions. Geography shouldn’t have to play a roll in what you are ‘allowed’ to say and believe.” This response is something that truly should be correct. Why is that just because you live in a certain area you should be afraid to state who you are voting for? Whether it is for either candidate you, as an American citizen, should have the right to speak your mind and opinion.

Anna Moore; Junior Georgia Southern Student

Going off of the first question, the interviewees were asked if this changed the way they viewed the election. One response really caught my attention. A person that I interviewed shared “It didn’t change the way that I viewed the election, but it changed the way that I verbalized the election. Instead of avoiding the subject of who I was voting for, if I was asked, I stated I was voting for Trump in order to avoid awkward encounters.” This response to me almost went against the silent voter concept as a whole, which is why I wanted to include it. It never occurred to me that someone would just openly lie about who they were voting for. If thought about it for long enough it can almost make sense, but there seems to be no point in lying to anyone besides your friends and acquaintances so they thinking you voted for someone you didn’t. It seems that this could help to avoid the mistreatment that could be received.

Patrick Darcy; Statesboro local

To be answered with almost identical answers, the question was asked if more people had the same opinions or were more welcome to share them, if they would feel more comfortable in the place they live. They all agreed that if there were a more equal distribution of thoughts and beliefs in the area it would be much easier to share your thoughts. This would in turn cause a more welcoming and warmer environment for everyone regardless of beliefs. But when it comes to the reactions received I got a response that said it the best. They said “I take peoples response as a clue as to whether their friendship is worthwhile. If they aren’t able to accept my views or begin to talk down to or about me because of it, they aren’t needed in my life.”

Olivia Vasquez; Georgia Southern Senior

One of the people I interviewed actually responded to the question; does the fact that you are unable to practice your constitutional right of freedom of speech because of your fear of of being bullied or harassed worry you, and did you feel ashamed of who you were wanting to win at any point in the race, quite well. “I never have nor will I ever, be ashamed for who I vote for or who I believe will be the best decision to run the country. But it is quite disheartening to know that I am incapable of using a right that I should be able to posses. If I decided that I wanted to proclaim my thoughts on an election it very well could loose me some friends along the way, which is terrible. We should be way farther along than this with us living in America and all.”

To sum this interview up, those who were interviewed seemed to respond like you would assume they would. There is a general consensus that this is an issue that in the twenty-first century shouldn’t be legitimate. And I think it can be said for all, that its not just for this party. The fact that silent voters are a real category of voters is sad. We live in America where your voice should be able to be heard no matter the opinion. With this being said, the first place we can start to fix this is in small towns like Statesboro. We need to teach that acceptance is key, and that we can’t live in these small town 1920’s ideas any longer. So from Hillary’s silent voters to those for Trump, let’s use our voices and be heard, no matter the side. We have a right so use it.

Another view of Georgia Southern’s campus