Last Tuesday, the university played host to a Symposium on Presidential Primaries. The event, intended to discuss the Feb. 20 primary in the state, brought the state party chairmen of both major political parties, national reporters and a variety of academics together to discuss the upcoming contest.
This event is just the latest in a line of major political events on campus centered around the primary election. Sen. Bernie Sanders has visited the city twice in recent weeks, Sen. Marco Rubio spoke on campus and Donald Trump, along with Sen. Rand Paul, are coming to campus soon. Last week, Carolina Clash pitted the College Republicans, Libertarians and Democrats against each other in a debate moderated by The Daily Gamecock.All of this political activity has students involved, which is great — it combats the typical political apathy of the college set in immediate, entertaining ways.
That being said, this election season fervor may be premature. The primary is more than five months away. The vast majority of voters haven’t started paying serious attention yet. There are 21 declared major candidates now, with the possibility of the sitting vice president jumping in to the race in coming weeks. One candidate has already left the race, and many others will doubtless follow by the time that any votes are cast in South Carolina. By the time that the actual election comes around, some of these events will likely have been rendered outdated and forgotten by the majority of students.
While the lasting importance of early campaigning is doubtful, it's still a great way to keep students engaged. This has been a wonderful start to a season with a rare influx of high profile politicians to the state. We hope the energy holds up as the election approaches — if it does, there'll be ample opportunities for students to become informed and engaged citizens.