Our country lies in a state of disarray. After watching the first presidential debate on Tuesday, it’s no stretch to say our democracy is anything short of shameful.
The candidates bickered on live television for the whole world to watch. And we saw, yet again, the partisan divide making politics an unsolvable, pointless battle.
So, let’s abolish the system and not vote in November! That will solve our problems, right?
In reality, the only progress that will generate is this: nothing.
Many young, leftist voters have expressed their burning disdain for the government and are protesting the upcoming election by not voting. In theory, this is a noble effort to dismantle the broken systems we operate under. But in practice, it is an unproductive use of their constitutional right as a citizen.
People have valid reasons to be angry with our country. Some of the strongest opponents of the election are those who have been consistently oppressed by American institutions. They don’t want to contribute anymore.
But, those same groups are squandering an ability granted to them by those who fought valiantly for their right to vote in the first place. This is a privilege among so many others — freedom of speech, individual autonomy, a representative democracy — that people would, and did, die for.
How did we get here? We fought, we protested and we voted.
You cannot ignore that history. Progress is about building upon the strides we have already made, not backtracking because there are still obstacles in the way. Doing so minimizes the work of our ancestors.
If those who hope to take a stand by not voting want to see actual results from that act of protest, they must organize and gain traction. As of now, there is no large and unified effort.
As a result, the people voicing their reluctance to vote come across only as privileged. They have determined that there isn’t much at stake with this election. They can sit it out and wage their battles another way.
Yet, not voting is completely counterproductive to their cause. You want to protect minorities and abolish all the systems that abuse them by staying silent? And in such a disorganized effort? That sort of “rebellion” has no effect unless everyone joins together. This is what makes the major political parties so powerful in the first place: they unionize their voices.
Not voting while staying vocal about your grievances with this country is more hypocritical than it is noble. Your one chance to be as loud as you can is through voting. And in America, your vote actually means something. While forms of voter suppression do remain, we are lucky enough to not live under the iron fist of a dictatorship with elections that are completely rigged.
The voter turnout rate in the 2016 presidential election was around 61 percent of eligible voters. The percentage was even lower for the 18-29 demographic at only 46 percent in the 2016 election, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
If you don’t vote, you will just add to that percentage of eligible voters who didn’t exercise their constitutional rights. Unless hundreds of thousands of people joined forces to centralize this movement, then the election would run relatively the same. You’re not going to cause an upset by not going to the polls.
To put it simply, a president is going to be elected on Nov. 3 whether you vote or not. You should at least contribute to democracy. If your desired candidate is not picked, then get angry. Lobby. Protest. But do not silence yourself out of the stubbornness of choosing whatever moral high ground you think there is.
This election in particular, many feel morally conflicted when looking at our presidential options. Two major hurdles are the sexual assault allegations and histories of racist choices that follow both candidates. How have we become a society that must settle with these choices? The bar is on the ground.
But by voting for either President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe Biden, you are not voting for the ultimate state of our country. You are voting to help push it in the right direction.
So much pressure is placed around voting, especially in presidential elections, that it has blown up into a large commitment. We are trying to search for the perfect candidate, that matches all our thoughts on the political agenda.
But your perfect politician does not exist, especially not with the polarization we currently have. You must choose someone who aligns the best with those beliefs. You are not advocating for all of their policies, and you are definitely not devoting your life to their work. But you shouldn’t be silent at home and then complain when bad candidates are in office.
There are also more questions on the ballot than simply that of the presidential candidate, and they are just as, if not more, important.
It has to be acknowledged, however, that some people are truly neutral or uniformed on issues, and don’t understand the complexities of all the choices. Making an ill-informed choice may be more dangerous and unrepresentative of democracy than no choice at all.
But if you do have an opinion on the options presented, you cannot sit on your high horse and launch a solo rebellion against the system. You are one piece in a very large, very complicated puzzle. You must use that to help you enact the change you want. Otherwise, the systems you so complain about, the ones that are oppressing you, will only continue to do so.