What if you knew that people had died specifically so you could do something, something incredibly vital, something most people on this planet can only dream about doing. The people who died did so believing their deaths would not be in vain. But unless you do the thing they died for you to do, they actually did die in vain. Do you know what I’m talking about?
I’m talking about exercising your right to vote. This freedom was not won for so only our parents and our grandparents could vote, but so that we, college students, could also have that freedom.
Many students, including me, often feel as if they are relatively powerless, that they do not yet have the means or influence to change things. Those things are in the hands of the older generation, those who also have the experience and knowledge that we do not yet have. Of course there is truth in this, but we also must understand that it is not less than our duty, as college students, to participate in the political process. By doing this we absolutely do shape the world we are soon to enter. The world after college, in which we must look for jobs, can be shaped by our votes. Don’t give in to the temptation to be cynical. Our votes really and truly do count. To throw that away and to forget that people literally died so that we could have this privilege and voice would be tragic.
I often get discouraged because politicians don’t seem to care about student needs. But it is important to remember that politicians won’t address student needs without student votes. College students will not be represented by anyone else and we must therefore represent ourselves. Young adults are a force to be reckoned with, but only if we make our voices and opinions known. In 2018, millenials will pass baby boomers as the largest generation of Americans eligible to vote. However, the impact of this change will be muted if our generation continues to vote at much lower rates than our elders, particularly in midterm elections like 2018.
Don’t let people tell you that your vote doesn't matter. It does, especially if you are wishing for a change to happen. We have the ability to shape our future.
Some examples of elections won or lost by only a few votes include:
In December 2017, Virginia Democrats ended Republican’s 20-year grasp on the state House of Delegates by the margin of a single vote.
The 2000 Presidential Election was decided by 537 voters in Florida who backed Republican Gov. George W. Bush of Texas over Democratic Vice President Al Gore.
In 1960 John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon by 0.2% of the popular vote.
Donald Trump is president thanks to 80,000 people in three states.
In November 2016, an estimated 62 million voters were millennials. This number has only increased in the past two years. Only 46% of this voting group voted in the past presidential election.
And in a few years, when we do enter the world we have allowed to be created without our votes, we will likely regret it. But of course we don’t have to regret it yet, because we still have the opportunity to vote. So, are you in?