Today, for the first time, I voted in an election in-person. Previously, I’ve voted absentee so this was a bit of an exciting day. Truth be told, I was also a bit nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. As a Political Science major, I’m pretty sure we are required to vote or we lose our diploma. Or something like that.
Hands down, it was an incredibly easy process and I am thankful for the opportunity to express my opinion, even in a small way. So many times, especially in South Carolina politics, I hear the excuse “my vote doesn’t matter.” To this I say, please visit any country without free elections and then come back and talk to me.
A quick Google search reveals voter turnout to be around 50% nationwide for the last 3 decades in presidential elections. Contrast this with recent elections in Iraq where 90% of the voting age population turned out – while some were also under threat of violence.
Call me an activist, an idealist; I am probably a little of both, but I hear an increasing frustration with the current political system (see Congress’ approval records) and yet, the answer is not to retreat, but to engage! The bunker strategy is not effective in war, in religion, or in politics. Just as an army does not fire cannons at random into unknown lands, so we must not fire cannons into political issues at random without first making ourselves informed.
Still, our responsibility to speak up, to fight, and to engage the culture, particularly on issues concerning the vulnerable, is not limited to one day, but should be ongoing. To vote and do nothing the other days of the year is tantamount to taking a vitamin on January 1 every year and expecting to see results.
As a member of the generation least likely to vote, I realize I am indicting many friends. My words are not meant so much as a stab, but a call to action. We stand on the shoulders of giants – some protested, some fought, and some died for this right. May we not forget their sacrifice.