In case you didn’t know. It’s an election year. And even though it isn’t over until it’s over, it looks like the two options headed into the general election will be Clinton and Trump. We’ve been hearing a lot of mumbling about this and it’s time to speak up. Many people around us have said that if those are the options for president, then they are throwing in the towel, disengaging from the election, and not voting. Senator Lindsey Graham even recently said they he won’t be voting for Trump or Clinton in the 2016 election.
But in an election like this, we can’t afford to be disengaged. We can’t afford to close our ears and shut our eyes and turn away from what some might consider a train wreck of an election. In a year and situation like this, it has become only more pertinent to tune in, speak up, and make some extremely well-research, well-educated decisions.
We know it can be painful to watch as one candidate talks building walls, tweets about loving Hispanics and taco bowls and has been known to spout some xenophobic sentiments while the other is shrouded in mistrust and speculation due to past events. But that’s just the way it goes sometimes, and that isn’t an excuse to shirk our duties as citizens.
U.S. voting rates are already dismally low, embarrassingly low compared to other countries, especially when we are supposed to be the land of democracy. Pew Research reports that in the 2012 presidential election there was 53.6% turnout. Compare that to Belgium (87.2%) or Sweden (82.6%), in fact around 30 countries have much higher turnout rates than the U.S. In many of these countries, compulsory voting laws or governmental help in registration certainly contribute to higher rates, while in the U.S. voting is an individual responsibility. That means it is a responsibility we should cherish.
So this election, don’t put the blinders on, but dive head first. Sure, at the end of the day you may not vote for a candidate because you love them and because they have the strongest policies that you believe will make the world a much better place. You may end up voting for the candidate that you feel is the lesser of two evils, the candidate who you think is a safer bet. Even if you end up voting to protest against a candidate versus because you support one, your opinion, your ballot and your political engagement is still needed.
We can’t afford an attitude of apathy. It is that very attitude that spreads and can affect our whole country. And when we are apathetic we don’t make a change and we can’t make a difference. It may sound dramatic, but it is true, the fate of the country depends on our willingness to do our research and make an informed decision now more than ever.
Image by Kyra Lai