Former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson received a standing ovation at the “Our Future College: Voice Your Vote Tour” last night.
Wilson is widely known as being responsible for questioning President Bush’s claim that Iraq was obtaining African uranium.
In an appeal to encourage students to participate in political debate, Wilson touched on subjects like foreign policy, the missteps of the current government and the power voters have to change the political situation.
Wilson blamed what he called an unnecessary war in Iraq on the small amount of people able and willing to make important decisions. He stated that if more people voted, a larger breadth of views in the pre-war debate would have been expressed.
Wilson added that less than 20 percent of adult Americans voted in the 2000 presidential elections.
“There is no more solemn obligation that a country has than fully considering when, how and why it sends its sons and daughters to die for their country,” he said.
Wilson and other keynote speakers addressed voter apathy in coalition with the Apollo Alliance, a group devoted to help the country achieve “energy independence” by lobbying for solar power and other oil alternatives. Other sponsoring groups included MTV’s Rock the Vote, PIRGIM and Campaign for America’s Future.
“I’m proud to be part of this and sustaining a green energy initiative. Getting students out and organizing on campuses is so important,” said John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace.
Student groups with political affiliations also promoted last night’s event.
“It’s important that students recognize the power they have to affect policy,” said Courtney Skiles, LSA junior and chair of communications for the Michigan Student Assembly.
“This being a non-partisan event is important because many students don’t affiliate with any party, and this event speaks to everyone and allows them to realize they have a place in the democratic process,” Skiles said.
Included in the presentation were various musical and poetry slam acts.
“We were disgusted with current social conservatism (and) how they deter people from voting,” said Chuck Newsome, guitarist from Smokestack, one of the performing bands at the event. “We love to do benefits for good causes and this feels a little more meaningful than usual.”
Students also expressed enthusiasm for event’s call for increased political involvement.
“Everything around us is affecting us and the choices we make today will affect us in the future,” added LSA sophomore Yasmin Naghsah.