The Importance of Exercising the Right to Vote (ESPECIALLY this year)

As the United States gets into the thick of the presidential election with only two candidates remaining, there is a widespread apathy among American voters who can’t seem to discern between the two contentious candidates. This election is becoming unprecedented in its controversiality between the two candidates which is why so many people feel the right choice is simply not to vote. The two candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, both have their reasons for voters animosity; with one creating a multitude of problems with his incendiary and callous rhetoric, and the other having a series of scandals involving National Security that evoked a general distrust from many Americans.

This problem of low voter turnout has been killing the concept of American democracy for many years now. The United States has ranked relatively low among most of the other developed countries in voter turnout. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, only 57.5% of eligible voters cast a vote in the last U.S. presidential election in 2012. Compare this to other countries in previous elections like Belgium (87.2% of voters), Turkey (84.3%), Sweden (82.6%), and even Germany (66%), and the U.S. looks pitiful (PewResearchCenter, U.S. voter turnout trails most developed countries).

One of the main reasons for the increasingly ubiquitous impartial take on U.S. presidential elections among voters is that many people feel that the two party system is intrinsically flawed (I understand there are other parties like the Independents and Libertarians but our political system essentially run by two parties because the other parties have no political, financial, or influential power in comparison to the two dominant parties). Many people see the two party system as restrictive because it limits the possibilities for other candidates to assume influential power. This, they believe, forces people into difficult decisions as evident in the current election. Another argument I’ve heard (which goes hand-in-hand with the flaw of the two party system) is that both candidates are not fit to be president and therefore they feel they don’t want to support either one.

I empathize with the many people that feel the two party system is flawed and that it should be changed so that other parties, like the Libertarians, Independents, and possibly new ones in the future,  have more political power. With that said, the way to fix a problem is not by ignoring it but by working with it and, with time, finding a proper solution. Voting is an essential part of American history. Lamenting over the flaws in the two party system and refusing to vote because of it is wrong. Not voting exacerbates the problem in the system and creates new problems because when voting turnouts are low it brings up the possibility of the elected president having a poor representation of America’s ideals (I think this is being seen with Donald Trump). This is killing our democratic system and is furthermore failing to reflect our true ideals so that people like Trump can rise in the polls. So many people resent Donald Trump but one of the reasons he has done so well in polls is because many people are choosing not to vote. The beauty of democracy is our ability to choose and that is being tarnished by apathetic voters who are taking their right to vote for granted.

This concept of participating can be applied in all facets of our lives. Here at SHC we are called to contribute and participate with elections and choices so that our ideals are reflected. When we fail to do so everyone loses. Throughout life we are constantly being called to voice ourselves so that we can improve our lives. So, if you’re called to participate and express

yourself, I implore you to act. Life is full of tough decisions but it’s imperative to work with them and find the best solution.