Dear America: Please Vote
This post isn’t about the candidates. It’s about voting. I’ve heard quite a few reasons people are considering not voting this November, such as “It’s against my conscience” and “I don’t like either delegate” and “My state’s always _____ (insert political party), so what’s the point?” These aren't new statements; one site claims only 57.5% of the eligible American population voted in the 2012 elections, with reasons ranging from disinterest to not liking the candidates. Regardless of whether we're fans of the candidates or not, we need to address some misconceptions and consider why we vote in the first place.
First off, this election is not the apocalypse.
It is not the end of the world. A certain candidate being elected does not mean the world—or America—will certainly come to an end.
Could it (the world or America) come to an end during the next president’s term? Absolutely.
Could it come to an end tomorrow? Umm, yes.
With all the mind-boggling acts of terrorism, shootings, and major international tension, I don’t think I have to convince anybody we simply don’t know what the future holds. We don't know what next year holds or what tomorrow holds, and the truth is, we don’t even know what our next breath holds. Or if we’ll have a next breath. Ask anyone in healthcare, or law enforcement, or that one friend who always watches the news. We don’t know what our future holds. The chaotic state of the world can and probably will continue no matter who is elected president.
This election is not the be-all, end-all.
Living for six months in a country where people have a “vote” but have no confidence their vote counts in the midst of corruption changes one’s perspective on politics.
We are electing a leader for four years. Four years! The person who is elected will move into the White House, and then in just four years we’ll do it all over again.
This isn’t forever. I recently stayed in a country where the prime minister has been in power for 30 years, and frustrated citizens are convinced nothing but natural death will get him out of office. My guess is there are more countries than not where it is a miracle if power is handed off to another leader without bloodshed. In light of this, four years is so little time. In light of this, waiting for another election is a gift, not a chore.
It makes sense practically to vote.
The vast majority of America is crying out this is a choice between “the lesser of two evils” (I hear you, Facebook posts, memes, and small talk comments from just about everyone I know). That may be true. What I also know is true is this:
We have to select someone to run this country for the next four years. We have our choices before us. It’s up to us to look at our options and then choose who we believe to be the best candidate.
It’s like if you enter a restaurant with your child, and no matter what, you know your child will be fed. Your child has to eat, and if you don’t feed him, someone else will. You can slam the menu shut because you can’t believe the only options are brussels sprouts or liver, or you can look at your options and choose the best one.
Our vote is that simple. We look at our choices, and we make a decision. It’s a practical action.
You may think your options are like brussels sprouts and liver (you either love it or you hate it), but you still have options. Someone will be president for the next four years, and the fact we have options at all is pretty amazing in itself.
Voting is a privilege—with a price too high to count.
Remember the part in the last line of our national anthem—“the laaand of the free” (the part where the vocalist’s voice soars as high as the following fireworks)?
We are free.
We are free to vote and elect a leader for our country and yell and scream our opinions in the street, no matter if they support or condemn the government. This freedom—including the ability to vote—came at the price of human lives. From the Revolutionary War all the way up to now.
Some may find this hard to swallow, but we are not entitled to vote. We, as humans, are not entitled to live in America or have air conditioning or have the ability to vote. As American citizens, it is indeed our right to vote. But as human beings, there is nothing different between us and the human beings around the world who don’t get a say in who runs their country.
If you want to arrive at the polls and write your own name on the ballot, please do! By all means, follow your conscience—don’t vote for someone you feel you cannot morally support. Write your name or your grandma’s, or vote Third Party or Republican or Democrat, whatever you are comfortable with. To me, what matters more than whom you vote for is that you cast a vote.
Some argue that people who don’t vote lose their right to talk or complain about politics. While this does seem fair, I believe when we don’t vote, we lose so much more than that. By not voting, we are taking for granted a gift paid for by very lives, a privilege for which millions don’t even have a thread of hope. Perhaps the only vote truly "thrown away" is the one that was never cast.
Dear America, you have a privilege. On principle, maybe you can’t vote for either political party. On principle, please still show up at the polls. Oh America, please vote.
To find out how to register to vote in your state, click here.
Harden, Seth. "Voting Statistics." Statistic Brain. Statistic Brain, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 27 July 2016.