This Tuesday many Bowdoin students and Brunswick community members will gather at the polls. Whether you’re born and raised in Maine or only intend to stay for four years, your presence here matters, as a vote or as a voice. Advocating for representatives with your vote is one way to positively engage with the community, but this change does not end with a bubble filled in on the ballot. Tuesday is only one step on an ongoing to-do list.
This year, Maine faces a highly contested race between Governor Mills and former Governor LePage, as well as two candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. On a more local level, Brunswick will vote for their State Senate and State House representatives. All of these individuals will represent Maine, Brunswick and Bowdoin on a larger scale. The implications of these races are important, not just for Mainers but also for us, Bowdoin students.
While a major part of voting in Brunswick is bursting the Bowdoin Bubble, Bowdoin students don’t have to look far for opportunities for engagement. On our campus alone there are countless groups geared towards engaging with our greater political communities: through shared passions, common issues and party affiliations. Through organizations like the Bowdoin Democrats, Bowdoin Republicans, Bowdoin Reproductive Justice Coalition, Bowdoin Sunrise and more, students don’t shy away from bringing their political beliefs to the forefront of discussions.
Go beyond attending these club meetings. Keep the momentum you get from within Bowdoin’s campus and use it to engage beyond posters in Smith Union, tabling on the quad and debating with friends in Moulton Union booths.
A great way to meet and learn about local politicians is to attend local debates. Last year, the Bowdoin Democrats hosted a debate between Andrew Kaleigh ’24 and Dan Ankeles, two candidates running for the 100th District of the Maine House of Representatives Democratic nomination. Many campus and Brunswick community members attended, engaged with and learned about the two candidates. Consider attending similar local debates and events, opportunities to deepen knowledge and open up conversations on campus.
This aforementioned work should not solely be limited to political spaces, though. Rather, voting and attending these rallies are only first steps in campaigning for the issues you are passionate about solving. Further, be open to dialogue with those who agree, disagree or simply don’t care about what you care about. Whether you bring these topics up in conversation with friends and family, in points in class or just stay up to date on new research, don’t let the causes you care about be relegated to a separate ‘political’ side of your life.
So, when you are leaving the polls on Tuesday, or depositing your mail-in ballot in the next few days (do this today so your vote counts!), hold onto that pride and connection you feel when standing shoulder to shoulder with community members in line. Keep the satisfaction you feel when you successfully fill in the bubble next to the candidate of your choice. Voting should be a powerful tool but the momentum shouldn’t stop there. Whether you save your “I voted sticker,” or throw it away immediately, hold onto the intangible part and keep going.
This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is composed of Andrew Cohen, Michael Gordon, Katie King, Jane Olsen, Juliana Vandermark, Halina Bennet and Seamus Frey.