Dr. Christina Greer (115266)
Dr. Christina Greer

Let’s face it, summer is more than half over, 2015 is half finished and we will soon see leaves turning and cold fronts coming in. Once 2016 arrives, the presidential season will truly be upon us, and it is more important than ever to pay attention to who is running, why they are running, what they are promising and whether they have a clear agenda for the future.

For many citizens, paying attention to the nuances of politics is tiresome. Many people see most politicians as corrupt and choose to abstain from the process altogether or engage as little as possible. Others only pay attention during general elections and use their party identification to vote for “the lesser of two evils.” However, many of the important and detailed conversations and debates occur during the primary season. And for those of you who are not yet paying attention, the primary upon us.

During the primary season, a host of candidates declare their candidacies and try to raise awareness for particular issues, garner support and solidify a loyal voting bases as well as raise money from small donors and major funders. Many times the media decides which candidates will likely become frontrunners and will dedicate much of their ink and time writing stories about the presumed winner. This has detrimental effects for democracy. If potential voters only hear about one or maybe two candidates in a crowded field, they may not know the ideas on which they are missing out.

On the one hand, it is our responsibility to actively participate in the electoral process and find out what we can about all candidates. However, on the other hand, it is the role of media outlets to give all candidates an opportunity to espouse their ideas and to not anoint a winner months before actual primary voting takes place.

For example, I have spoken to many people who usually vote in general elections. They are relatively participatory and tend to pay attention to the political process. Most are shocked when I tell them that there are currently five Democrats running in the 2016 presidential election: Lincoln Chafee (former Rhode Island governor), Hillary Clinton (former U.S. senator from New York and former secretary of state), Martin O’Malley (former Maryland governor), Bernie Sanders (U.S. senator from Vermont) and Jim Webb (former U.S. senator from Virginia). Additionally, Vice President Joe Biden has yet to decide if he will run for the Democratic nomination.

The number of declared Republicans is currently at 16 and expected to rise. So whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you have choices and several candidates to discover and research. All candidates have personal websites that lay out their agendas and initiatives.

Do not wait until November 2016 to become interested in presidential politics. Thegreenpapers.com details when primary voting will occur in your particular state. If you cannot vote, please encourage someone to do so. The 2016 primary season is too important for us to let it pass by.

Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Fordham University and the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream.”