The 2016 Presidential Election is about six weeks away, and the buzz surrounding this election is staggering. It is impossible to log onto Facebook, Twitter or Instagram without seeing a video, meme or article being shared about the presidential candidates. The political presence of millennials on social media is outstanding as well. However, that same presence is needed where it matters most: the polls.
On Nov. 8, we are called to exercise one of our basic rights as citizens of the United States of America: the right to vote. However, many millennials feel that it would be beneficial to take a step back and refrain from voting in this historic election. Their arguments are that neither candidate is fit for office, politics are not relevant in their lives or that their votes simply do not matter.
According to Montclair State student Carlygrace Sunday, “We are a generation of forward-thinking people and fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in our country’s history. We have the power to progress democracy in our nation. It’s better to be involved and informed then left ignorant.”
Another reason so many millennials choose not to vote is because they are simply not educated on the nation’s background of voting rights. The knowledge of our history gives a deeper appreciation for the people that did not stand down so you can stand up. When our Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, the right to vote was granted to white male property owners over the age of 21.
Since that time, thousands of passionate individuals fought tirelessly to give African-Americans, women and people 18 and over the right to vote. Would you dare tell Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King and Elizabeth Cady Stanton that you plan on refraining from exercising your right to vote in this election?
According to “Rock The Vote,” a nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage young people in politics, “every year 18 to 29 year olds make up a larger share of the voting population, but only if they [choose] to participate.” You have immense power to shape the future of this country, and it is unacceptable not to feel empowered. Politics affect you whether you choose to accept that or not. By not voting, you are giving in to a vicious cycle of cynicism.
The issues you will be voting for this November will affect your lives for years to come. Within the next four years you may be getting a job, buying a house, paying for healthcare or starting a business. Don’t sit back and let someone else make these decisions for you. If you don’t become informed, have an opinion and act on those opinions — don’t expect anything to change.
If you choose to give up your vote, you choose to give up your right to have a say in political matters. By taking a seat on the sidelines, you are choosing to silence your own voice. You are stripping yourself of your right — a right that thousands before you have fought and died for.
Millennials are the largest group of young people in the United States, and together your voices have the power to become the loudest voices in this election. This election marks a watershed in the history of American politics and it is imperative for the young electorate to cast a vote on Nov. 8, 2016. To my fellow Red Hawks, see you at the polls!