These past few weeks, I am sure you’ve been asked by about a million different people if you’ve voted. By the time the election came around Tuesday, everybody except political science majors such as myself were sick and tired of anything having to do with the mid-term elections. Many people I knew couldn’t see the value in voting. They had become too pessimistic about their value in democracy, or simply felt too uninformed about the candidates and the issues that they just gave up on the entire venture.
However, in my opinion, voting is one of the few direct powers that we as citizens have. We should capitalize on that power to influence the world around us. Many people do not realize it, but the people that we choose to elect (or let be elected if we do nothing) have a tremendous amount of power over things that influence everyone’s daily lives and happiness. Local officials have the most amount of power over things that directly touch citizens lives, and yet people care the least about who is elected to these positions. These officials, such as state congresspeople and town/city officials have influence over issues involving our drinking water, land, our accessibility to services, and countless other things.
Even though it may seem like elections for people such as these matter less, this misconception is simply not true. People also often due not realize that bigger seats are also on the ballot in the midterms, such as representatives, senators, and governor’s in some states. It’s easy to see how much power these positions have over us, and so we cannot simply sit back and let other people decide who gets to be in charge.
What often happens when people in the middle don’t vote is that people farther on either side of the political spectrum end up being the only ones who do end up voting–which then in turn creates the political extremism and division within Congress that we see today. Which is exactly the complaint of citizens who identify as moderates. If they were to vote, the division in government could drastically change.
While presidential elections feel more glamourous, we cannot let their allure tempt us to simply ignore the midterm elections. They are absolutely just as important as any presidential election and have much more of an immediate impact on the issues that directly affect us. Voting here in Saint Peter or back in your home town by way of absentee can help either one of your communities improve and work towards more progress.
It is especially important for people our age (people who are in college, or younger people in America) to vote and make our voices to heard. If people our age were to commit to voting in large numbers, we would most definitely make a huge difference in every election that we participated in. Young voters are one of the largest blocks of voters to actively be suppressed, due to the fact that if we were to vote we would have the power to change the entire outcome of every election. Younger people have a unique perspective to offer when voting, and vote for different kinds of politicians than older people do.
There is no way for anything to change if we as citizens do not participate in our democracy and local government. Anyone who chose to not vote, in my mind, has no right to complain about the people that represent them in government. If you made the active choice to not vote, then you are endorsing whatever is already the status quo and should accept whatever the outcome of the election is.
While voter turnout went shooting up this election, there is still a large amount of people left to fill the gap. We as young people could fill that gap, and it is in fact our responsibility to do so. Our generation are going to be the next ones to contribute to society, and one way that we can do that is by voting.
While the election has come and gone, there are still plenty of other ways for you to get involved in your community by way of your representation. Paying attention to what your representatives do can help you know how you want to vote in the next election. Knowing how your representatives act also allows you to call, write, or meet your representatives to let them know what your opinions about what they are doing, and convince them to listen to their constituents. Real change can happen when individual people step up and act.