Here’s the latest in the Vote series. It’s the night before the election, and I don’t know if I’m going to have a fiction or poetry piece. I think this is going to be a rant/plea/stump speech on why you have to vote tomorrow. Let’s just dive in.
I don’t know if you’ve been following politics lately; I’m not sure if you even need to to know that things aren’t well. We’re completely divided as a country, and it’s happening thanks in large part to the Republican Party. That already seems accusatory, but go back to when Gingrich was actually relevant and you’ll see that he takes pride and full responsibility for creating the political culture you see today.
Mitch McConnell will also do whatever it takes to ensure Republicans remain in power for as long as possible. No Republican leaders have stood up to Trump regardless of how senseless, racist, misguided, and predatory his policies are. They’ll all sell their souls for Trump if it means they can pass their agenda. And they’re confident they can win provided they rig the election in their favor.
We’re already seeing it in Georgia. We’re seeing polling places closing in states like Kansas. We’re seeing it in North Dakota. The theme in all of these states is that Republicans are in control and their efforts are specifically targeting minority voters who typically lean Democrat. We’ve seen it in multiple states where Republican-run governments were forced to redraw their districts due to illegal gerrymandering.
Republicans are looking to make it easier for people to obtain guns and openly carry them. Trump’s immediate reaction to the latest shooting in Pittsburgh was to suggest that the elderly victims would’ve been better protected if they were armed. Does that sound like the solution to right-wing extremism and school shootings or does it sound, at the very least, like a band-aid to a much bigger, neglected, manufactured-by-their-own-doing problem?
There are tons of millennials who can’t stand the political climate right now. We all grew up in a world where Republicans destroyed the economy and bashed Obama every chance they got. However, despite the climate being much worse than everyone in this country has seen in recent memory, there’s potential for a low voter turnout in this pivotal demographic. Young people typically skip the midterms, but young people are also more aware of how bad things are and how much worse they can get.
So what are some of the typical reasons millennials don’t vote? For starters, we grew up in the ’90s and early 00’s when it was cool to not give a shit about anything, when it was edgy to not participate in a system that rewarded those in charge of it. The idea that politicians on both sides are only looking after themselves is partly true. The idea that both sides will screw us over is flat out wrong.
Record numbers of women and minorities are running for Congress in this election. There are a record number of LGBT candidates as well. There is a candidate out there with the potential to win and represent your personal beliefs, even if they’re in another state. As a whole, the Democratic party could be a force to be reckoned with if they win the majority in the House. Maybe there could be an upset in the Senate.
Some of us believe that neither party is targeting issues that really matter to us. One major issue that affects millions of us, and is going to be an even bigger issue if it isn’t tackled soon is student loan debt. Republicans aren’t looking to make it easier for you to pay your student loans. Many would rather judge you for going for an art degree rather than a business degree. What they won’t tell you is that those traditional degrees are so filled with graduates that there are not enough jobs regardless — especially when boomers are still working and prolonging their retirement for as long as necessary.
Democrats, however, are looking to ease the burden of student loan debt. Some have suggested student loan forgiveness paid for by taxes to the 1 percent. Democrats running for office today are younger and can personally relate to the struggle we’re all dealing with right now. A handful of candidates are outspoken democratic socialists like Bernie Sanders. They’re interested in making it possible for everyone to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps; they’re interested in giving everyone an equal opportunity for success.
Healthcare is another huge issue. Many of us are getting kicked off of our parents’ plans. Many of us also have preexisting conditions that could potentially destroy our chances of acquiring an affordable plan if Republicans stay in control. Republicans will do everything they can to control women’s bodies. They’ll defund Planned Parenthood, they’ll make birth control harder to get, they’ll make excuses for young white men to sexually harass and assault women with no consequence, and they’ll ensure women can’t take matters into their own hands if God forbid the worst case scenario happens.
There is a candidate out there for all of us to vote for. Those candidates are not Republicans. Will the candidate in your state be a perfect fit for you? Probably not. It’s not usually how it works. I’m a liberal, but I’m also okay with people having access to AR-15s. I understand the purpose of the 2nd amendment. I also want universal background checks and tougher regulations for weapons like that. The point is that we’re all different and we all have different views and opinions.
That doesn’t mean because you don’t have a candidate that you relate with entirely, you get to skip the most important election of our lifetimes. If you’re interested in not voting or voting third party, you’re not doing the country any favors. I understand the point of third parties, but now is not the time to make a statement. Any vote that isn’t for a Democrat is a vote for the Republican Party.
Under normal circumstances, I’d say that it’s okay to vote third party or even Republican provided you’re informed and an active participant in our democracy. However, the Republican party has shown for the past two years that they’re more than willing to be complicit in the complete destruction of this country, they’re more than willing to divide us, they’re more than willing to put party over country. You might be thinking term limits could solve this, but neither party approves of them so they’re both hypocritical. While, yes, that might be a good solution, we don’t need it if we’re all actively voting.
Some of us might also not be able to vote because of work. I’m not going to get into this because it’s a horrible excuse to not vote. Take off. If you can’t take off, go before or after work. If you can’t go before or after work, mail in your ballot. Absentee ballots are a thing! There are ways to vote regardless of your position and field. Make the effort.
The only way we can expect change in this country is if we become active participants. We have to look at voting as if it were the draft. It is our duty as citizens to vote. If we don’t vote, someone else will for us, and that hasn’t worked out recently. You can’t expect change if you’re not going out of your way to disrupt the status quo. You can’t count on everyone else to do the hard work for you. You can’t continue to treat your vote as if it doesn’t count. While that may be relatively true for the presidential election, the midterms are significantly more important and the electoral college has no role in the final results.
The polls are much closer than you think and realize. The primaries have shown that every vote counts. Long-held Republican positions are in contention. Top Republicans didn’t even attempt to run and announced they wouldn’t run when they realized they had little-to-no chance of winning. The news has been going back and forth trying to look at the polls and determine which way the election will go. None of that matters.
More people are voting in Texas and Georgia than ever before. There are record numbers for early voting. We can’t look at those two states as outliers. They represent the anger and frustration with this Congress and administration. They’re not willing to be complicit in the destruction of democracy. They’re not willing to let Trump and Russia win. We all need to take a chance and get out and vote. You need to too. It’s not a lot to ask for. It’s not as hard as you think, especially if you’ve been paying even the slightest bit of attention to this political climate. And unless you’re okay with this political climate, you have no reason to assume it’s okay to skip this one out.
If this is your first time voting and you’re truly not sure how to do so, ask your parents or visit Vote.org to figure out where your polling place is, your eligibility, and what’s on your ballot.