Take back your voice, take back your vote: Youth need to participate in politics

When General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown to the Americans in 1783, he marked the end of the Revolutionary War and the beginning of a new age of democracy. With that democracy came the opportunity for people to take part in the government and have their opinion heard.

Today, this privilege is being taken for granted. According to the United States Election Project, only 36.4 percent of the eligible voting public cast their votes in the last general election in November 2014; the rate has not been this low since 1942.  

In 1942, voting was secondary to the war effort. In 2016, there is no excuse. When the founding fathers and thousands of others worked for the American people to have the right to vote, never would they have imagined this rapid decline of faith in their government.

These days, it is up to the older generation to cast in their ballots due to the lack of voting from the younger population,. The US News reports that “61 percent of citizens age 65 and older voted in the November 2010 election, the best turnout of any age group.” If young people want to see their beliefs turned into action, they need to vote.

There are about 90 million millennials – individuals ranging from the ages of 18 to 33 – that make up up 40% of the eligible voters in the United States. These millennials have the potential to sway the vote one way or the other, yet they have the lowest voting percentage.

While the disillusionment with voting is understandable due to the electoral college, it is important to remember that the electorate is responsible for representing the votes of the people. Popular vote does matter. The 2000 presidential election between George Bush (Republican) and Al Gore (Democrat) required a recount in Florida that would decide the presidency. In that case, a small number of popular votes led Bush to win the election over Gore.

Both political apathy and political criticism are infectious, but there is a certain amount of hypocrisy in criticizing the government without voting to change it. While political discussion online does shed light on important issues and encourages discourse, in the end, for political opinions to truly matter, voting is a necessity. A thousand retweets do not make a law.

Voting is a right for every US citizen over the age of 18 – it is a right of passage, a symbol of liberty, and an opportunity to have a say in the world you live in. While advertising our gratitude for freedom and sharing our opinions on social media is a viable and a positive option, if you want to truly take advantage of the freedom available here in the United States, take it from the screen to reality and vote.  

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Image by Michael Hellard/Prowler

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