Why You Should Vote

It’s interesting how much we can take some things for granted. My coworker told me he doesn’t care about apples. He’s a young African immigrant and where he grew up, an apple cost a day’s wage (about 1 U.S. dollar in his country) which meant that apples were a real treat and being able to afford one was a sign of wealth. This would be equivalent to at least $58 in our country (if you are making the federal minimum wage). When apples were rare and costly, he craved them like everyone else, but when he moved to the U.S. where apples are plenty and in many cases free, they suddenly lost their appeal. I offered him a Honeycrisp apple (the best of the best!) and he declined. “I just don’t care for them anymore.”

Photo Credit: Craig van der Lende

A woman selling apples in East Africa. Photo Credit: Craig van der Lende

I’m afraid many of us have adopted this same attitude when it comes to voting. “Well didn’t vote,” a woman tells me as though not voting makes her any less responsible for the present state of our country. I hear this a lot lately. On the contrary, not voting makes her just as responsible for what is happening as the voters who elected our current legislators. Inaction never acquits us of responsibility or guilt. Just like there is no neutral ground when it comes to morality, there is no neutral ground when it comes to politics. For example, you see an old man in a wheelchair being beat up by a young man on a street corner. You choose to stay out of the fight, simply voicing your concern alongside the other bystanders, but your inaction makes you just as responsible for that old man’s injuries because you did nothing to stop the attack. Yes, I know you weren’t the one dealing those deadly blows and I know you would never do such a ghastly thing but you let it happen anyway.

The same is true of politics. Yes, I know you aren’t a senator passing that controversial legislation and I know you didn’t elect Obama into office but you let him become elected anyway because you did nothing to quell the tide. You stood idly by and watched the votes flood in, and did not cast a line in the opposite direction. You didn’t do your part. But you might say, “He would’ve been elected anyway! Look at how many votes he had! My vote wouldn’t have mattered…” WRONG. Your vote matters. I wonder how many other thousands of people said that very same thing and how much the tide could have turned had they the courage to participate in changing history? You are that single grain of rice that could tip the scale. On the flip side, if you approve of the direction our country is heading, that’s great! But it’s no thanks to you because you didn’t vote. You can’t take any pride or ownership in the positive direction your country is heading, and you are entirely to blame for its failings.

Our ancestors didn’t fight and die for the right to vote so that we could treat it so flippantly, as a thing that we may or may not get around to this year. How insulting to their memory and efforts. If you don’t think you know enough about the candidates to vote, then do some internet research before election day, but please don’t use that as an excuse not to vote. I don’t care if you are conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, pro-choice or an over-the-top environmentalist (okay, I do care, but that’s not the point!). You are fortunate to live in a country where this right has been won for you, so don’t take it for granted. Go vote on November 4 and do your part in changing history!

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