Why Your Vote Matters
by: Makayla Gubbay
Voting restrictions have disportionately hindered minority groups’ ability to vote, our government is severely shifted to one political ideology, and the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision has allowed corporations to stream endless amounts of money into campaigns.
America is a representative democracy. This essentially means that, a few times a year, the power is in our hands to elect the leaders we believe will bring us prosperity. For the rest of the year, there’s not much we can do other than hope that we made the right decisions.
And yet, so many of us don’t make a decision at all. According to data from the U.S. Census, voter turnout in the United States is currently among the lowest in the entire developed world. This jarring gap in political involvement shows in our representation. According to June data from Gallup, only ¼ of Americans identify as Republican. However, Republicans run the majority of the country, filling 237 seats out of the 430 in the house, 52 out of 100 in the Senate, and holding the presidential powers.
So where does this lack of participation stem from? According to a nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll, out of the citizens who do not vote, 54 percent believe that the government is corrupt, and 37 percent believe that voting doesn’t make much difference in their lives.
For those in the 54 percent who are hesitant to vote into what they consider a corrupt system, let me remind you: we are not independent of our country’s politics. Every comment, decision, and policy made by our leadership is a reflection of ourselves. A vote lost is a vote that supports all the faults in our country.
And lastly, I’d like to address the 37 percent who say politics do not affect them:
In August, a man watched as his family was torn apart. His wife, a mexican immigration who ran to America as a teenager to escape family violence, was being deported to Mexico. With her went her nine year old daughter, an American citizen who was terrified to leave her home and enter a world she knew nothing of. And to the sidelines sobbed her sixteen year old daughter, a young girl who, due to her father’s constant travel, would suddenly be left primarily alone. The man held back tears and dodged reporters as he prepared to say his final goodbye to the family he build.
This man was named Temo Juarez, and as an Iraq veteran, he thought he was protected from the law. You see, the Obama administration had a policy in place to not prioritize the deportation of military family members. It was a policy that had support from numerous politicians, including Vice President Mike Pence. However, one change in immigration policy made this protection cease to exist.
Jaurez’s story is a cautionary tale. Many of the protections we take for granted could be stripped away from us at any given moment. That is why it’s our civil duty to inform ourselves about the implications of our politicians’ agendas and preclude something like this happening to our family.
From Harvard professors to New York Times writers, esteemed individuals are warning about a possible collapse of American democracy. The recent rejection of democratic institutions, the denial of the legitimacy of political opponents, and the toleration of violence against minorities are all red flags for our country’s demise. But we have a choice. We have a voice. And because of the amazing right we have to vote, we have the power to change the path our country is on.
So, we can pretend our votes don’t matter, tell ourselves we’ll be fine no matter what, or decide all politicians are corrupt and we want nothing to do with them. And that may work for a while. Until the day you wake up and see that the political powers in America are stacked irreversibly out of your favor, and watch as the legislation you didn’t even know they planned on implementing begins impetrating your way of life. And so, I implore you all, take the opportunity to affect politics before politics affect you.