If you don’t vote, you are squandering your power
My children probably won’t vote this November unless I make them go with me to the polls. Their reasons? They’ll say they don’t think there is anyone worth voting for and that all politicians are the same, anyway. Or they’ll say they don’t know enough about the issues and don’t have time to find out about them.
Does this sound familiar?
Millennials (18- to 29-year-olds), according to the U.S. Census, represent 31 percent of the total population but have the lowest voter turnout of any age group. They represented just 13 percent of voters who went to the polls in the 2014 midterm election.
But it’s not just the young who are failing to show up at the polls. According to the San Antonio League of Women Voters, in the last midterm election in Bexar County, just 12 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. Just 12 percent.
It’s truly shocking and deeply disappointing that such a large percentage of our population does not vote. Why do so few people vote? Aren’t there important issues to be settled, nationally as well as locally, issues such as Social Security benefits, Medicare, the cost of prescription drugs, broken sidewalks and potholes? What about college debt, finding a job, gun violence, stagnating wages and climate change?
Have we lost faith in our elected officials’ ability to resolve these issues? Have we lost faith in our democratic process? It doesn’t matter if we don’t absolutely love the candidates. Someone is going to get elected. Democracy gives us a choice. No one ever said it was the perfect choice. And it’s just as important to decide whom we don’t want as to decide whom we do want.
Are you one of those people who think voting is a complete waste of time while complaining about how the government is a total failure and nothing you can say or do will matter? Well, you are right. Nothing will get done to make things better if you don’t care. And if you don’t care, why should the politicians care? Their attitude reflects your attitude. If you don’t give a damn, why should they?
It’s a lot easier, of course, to do nothing and then complain. But our inaction, our apathy, our failure to vote, to speak up and speak out gives politicians and elected officials the permission, the excuse, the power to do nothing.
We don’t like what’s going on in Washington. We think Congress is doing a terrible job. We feel both parties are at fault. Well, not voting isn’t going to make it better. It doesn’t make anything better. And voting is the only chance we have of changing the way things are.
During the 17 years that I lived outside the United States, I had limited access in exercising my right to vote as an American citizen in U.S. elections. So, when I returned, I vowed that I would vote in every election I could. And I have. I do it proudly and joyfully. I thank the election judges for doing their job, and I relish the chance to listen to the ballot in audio and privately make my selection. How incredible it is to have this special opportunity, this power, to express my opinion, to make my decision about whom I want to represent me in Congress, the Texas Legislature, my local school board and City Council. It’s awesome to have this power, and I’m never giving it up.
And that’s how I see it.
Larry Johnson is an author and international motivational speaker. You may contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.mexicobytouch.com.