Jeff Dowd, Los Angeles film producer and character basis for “The Dude” in “The Big Lebowski,” visited campus Thursday afternoon to weigh in on his observations and encourage students to vote.

According to Dowd, each vote counts, and voting is important for college students because they are helping shape the future. He said people have a tendency to “do bad things to themselves,” and not voting is an example of that.

“[Not voting] is like doing three or four things to give you the flu,” Dowd said. “Why not take medicine now”?

He said today’s problems, such as the economy and energy, are entirely solvable, as there are many potential alternatives.

Dowd said he believes citizens, including students, need to “take charge” and get more involved in political action in order for things in government to work correctly. He said he believes it is important to keep the future in mind before voting.

Dowd said in the 1960s and ’70s, technology created an enlightenment and an entirely new culture. Today, he said he thinks jobs need to come from new avenues, and students have control of that future.

“We’re out of date, doing things we don’t need to anymore,” he said.

Dowd said he is both an observer and a networker and added he sees potential in Wisconsin to act as a model for how government should run, based on its small community.

Arthur Kohl-Riggs, a citizen journalist and activist who ran as a Republican against Gov. Scott Walker in this year’s recall election, accompanied Dowd during his stay in Madison. Kohl-Riggs said he believes in Dowd’s visions for Wisconsin.

“‘The Dude’ has accurately identified the potential Wisconsin has to lead by example,” he said.

He said Occupy Wall Street awakened citizens of the wealth disparity in the nation, which was a reality institutions were trying to hide. He added Wisconsin is at the forefront of the election, and if changes are not made, it is a waste of “cosmic energy.”

Dowd said the nation’s economic system needs to change, as it impacts democracy. He said it is a “casino economy,” and it is time to change it.

He said while he is not a decision maker, he is an observer who sees potential in students and encourages them to take full advantage of their potential and commit to change. Not doing so, he said, would be detrimental.
Dowd said if there is failure, then citizens need to become involved to make sure it does not happen again. He said students should not see this involvement as a monstrous challenge; rather, they should take it step-by-step.

Dowd is also a political activist who practiced civil disobedience against the Vietnam War by not participating in the draft, he said. For this defiance, he said he temporarily spent time in jail.

Dowd is also the author of “The Dude by Classes Tales and Rebel Rants,” which he said will be released next week.

Dowd also spoke at a Lebowski Fest, held in Madison Thursday night, and said after speaking at multiple festivals, he has found both political parties find ways to compromise on certain topics.

He said next year he plans to speak in Madison again.