"You're college students--you could totally get your meals free today," I told my class. "Play your cards right, and you could have coffee and a doughnut for breakfast, have a late lunch/dinner of a chicken sandwich, and then have ice cream for dessert." I was talking, of course, about the freebies places were offering for people who voted. They laughed; I think they thought I was joking.
As I wandered about campus for this and that, I could feel a humming sort of energy. Shoot, in spite of my pessimism, I felt a bit charged after penciling in my scantron ballot. And it occurred to me: voting is as much social as it is political. It's a way of at least feeling like one is part of something bigger, like one has done what one has been obligated to do.
It's... a cynic might call it brainwashing.
That said, I bought into it, voting across party lines and voting on a couple issues in a way that my 18-year-old-self would've been surprised to see. And I got a free, bitter cup of coffee that was worth every penny I paid.