I get it: politics suck. But this year’s midterms could be one of the most important votes you cast."
Allow me to remove my professional student cap and put on my hat that spells “VOTE” in big, obnoxious letters. Now, before you look away thinking ‘jeez, another article telling me that I should vote? I‘ve read enough of these!’ I want you to know that, yes, politics suck. It’s tiring, causes all kinds of undue stress, starts fights between you and your friends, and generally makes you question why the human race should be allowed to go on living on this planet that we’re forsaking. Here’s the problem with avoiding politics and voting, though:
If you don’t vote, you can’t change anything.
According to the Pew Research Center (PRC), Millennials (the generation group you, dear reader, likely fall into) will be the largest adult generation in the U.S. next year with approximately 73 million people. We will be the largest voting bloc in the country, and yet, only “59% of adults who are eligible to vote are Gen Xers, Millennials or ‘post-Millennials’,” according to PRC.1 “In the 2014 midterm election… these younger generations accounted for 53% of eligible voters but cast just 36 million votes – 21 million fewer than the Boomer, Silent and Greatest generations, who are ages 54 and older in 2018.”
Millennials will soon have the most power and influence as a generational group, but the fact of the matter is we just don’t vote. We complain about the ways our government is failing us and not doing its duty to the people, but we forget that our government only works when people vote for the right representatives. This is something the older generations get and have it well-entrenched into their minds to get out and vote at practically every election. Voting is a right shared by every American, and if you want to see any sort of change in the government and your daily life you must vote at every election.
Midterms are not as glamorous or interesting as the presidential elections, but they are just as important and affect the entire country. Numerous seats in Congress, both in the House and Senate, are up for grabs by both parties. According to an August poll of Congressional approval, only 17% of Americans support the current Congress. 77% disapprove. The difference is staggering and frightening. Younger generations are vocal about their disapproval with the way things are going but won’t vote to fix it.
The arguments I hear and read about why people won’t or can’t vote exhibit the apathy many young people have about politics and the critical voting process. I find that many of them can be answered with some critical thinking or acceptance that some sacrifices must be made to change the future.
“I don’t like the candidates that are running!” is a popular argument I hear, and my least favorite. If you don’t like the candidates in an election, then write the name of your preferred candidate onto your ballot or vote for the one who closest matches your beliefs and ideals. Get out and vote.
“I’m not into politics!” Too bad, because something you have a stance on has likely been turned into a political issue. Do you want people of different faiths and cultures to be given the same rights as you? Do you want to prevent wars? Do you want to live a comfortable life after retirement, and be able to raise a family without worrying about money? Do you want to pay thousands for healthcare if you have to ride in an ambulance? Do you want the government to fight against climate change? If you answer “yes” or “no” to any of these questions, you’re into politics and are affected by them. Get out and vote.
“My vote doesn’t count!” is, to me, a practically meaningless argument. Every vote for a candidate counts. Even if your candidate doesn’t win, you’ve made a statement by voting for them. If you staunchly support a candidate that’s unknown to a wider audience, make them known. Share their stances on subjects with your friends, even if it’s uncomfortable. Dissension with the status quo is expected in this country. If you want to make a change, get out and vote.
Politics are tiresome and depressing, and with the current state of the government it’s hard to not despair every time a new, rights-robbing policy is signed into law. You can rage all you want about how it’s unfair, but unless you (and your family and friends) get out and vote in the midterms, change will not happen. Younger generations will have the power to bring about the greatest changes to our government this year, but that’s only possible by voting.