This Tuesday, citizens across Michigan will flock to the polls, casting votes for their favored candidates. The day after, there will no doubt be a wave of anger or resentment from those who lose, drowned out only by the taunts and celebrations of those who win.
Young people in particular have a strong voice on social media. Everybody seems more than happy to criticize politicians and advocate their particular vision for the state and country. Yet, young people consistently have the lowest voter turnout of any age group. During the 2016 presidential election, people ages 18-29 had a turnout rate of under 45 percent. During the last midterm election in 2014, voter turnout was even lower, with just over 15 percent of young people casting ballots.
It seems paradoxical that this be the case. Young people have historically been hugely active in political movements. During the Vietnam War, college students were notorious for their protests, walkouts and riots. Even recently, there have been student walkouts against gun violence, marches for various marginalized groups’ rights and plenty of young people speaking up for what they believe. Yet, the polls will not reflect this enthusiasm.
Voting is often described as a right, but in reality it is much more. It is our civic duty to our community, state and country. Our constitution begins with the words, “We the People.” With those words, our country set out on a mission: governing a society according to the people, not the powerful. To vote is to fulfill your duty as an American to uphold this idea of government, and ensure those that lost their lives defending it did not do so in vain.
The validity of our government is born from our contribution to it. When one foregoes voting, they not only surrender their voice, but weaken the government as a whole. Those who don’t vote have no right to criticize the state of affairs. Apathy isn’t a part of the problem, it is the problem. If we all cast ballots, our country would look drastically different than it does today. Yet, many of us will sit at home on election day.
If you care about the direction of our state and country, about the people around you or about your own future and family’s future, take the time to vote this Tuesday.