Voting is a rare right we enjoy here in this country.
Some of you don’t do it. You’re the same people who complain when things are wrong, and you probably cite some hip super liberal tendencies when asked about why you don’t take to the polls: “Well, the electoral college pretty much does it. I mean, my opinion doesn’t actually count. Besides, I was going to vote for Ralph Nader, but minority politicians are so underrepresented that it would basically be like throwing my opinion into a void of crushing nothingness.”
You’re definitely not 100 percent wrong, made-up student, but I would argue that you’re missing the point, and you should be angry with yourself. You’re forfeiting one of your greatest civic duties, and you’re contributing to a big problem. According to The New York Times, “voters under the age of 30 were 19 percent of all voters in 2012, but just 10 percent in 2010. Likewise, voters 65 and up were 17 percent of all voters in 2012 but 21 percent of all voters in 2010.”
Imagine if our voter pool wasn’t so skewed by age, race and income. There’s a chance, albeit a small one, that we could inherit a government that actually reflects the “will of the people.” If you’re not voting, you’re not helping. You’re simply adding to a problem.
There’s an interesting hint of irony in that those with less money and power, people just like us, don’t take advantage of one of our greatest powers. As Charles Blow of The New York Times notes, “a vote is the great equalizer, but only when it is cast.”
He’s absolutely right. If we ever hope to have a system of government that’s truly representative, then we have no choice but to make our voices heard. It’s our own duty to be educated, up to date, and to cast a vote that reflects our own interests and opinions. It’s not too terribly hard to stand in line for a few minutes, if it means having a part in deciding what the future of our country will be like.
It’s time to quit wallowing in self-pity. It’s time to stand up, look in the mirror, and realize that if you think this country or this government has problems, there’s something you can do about it. My friends, this is within your power to change, and yet so many of you choose not to.
It’s vexing, and it’s frustrating. It represents a failure in a form of government borne from people who aimed to avoid exactly what we have—a state built by the aristocracy, where the few had more power than the many and those with nothing were given nothing. A state where a man could work full time, and not earn the wages to live, and where politicians smiled to your face and cut your programs when they got into office. Alas, this isn’t ancient Greece, it’s modern America. Think about that next time you decide you won’t be voting.