OPINION: Voting is a necessity

Our generation has taken the political scene by necessity, with climate change, the right to choose and so many other key issues taking center stage. While many people our age are quick to jump on social media, we’re missing one important step: Voting.

In the 2020 Presidential Election, only 50% of eligible people between 18 and 24 years old voted. While this number is up 11% from the presidential election before, it’s not consistent across elections. In midterm elections, there’s typically 20% less turnout than in presidential elections. 

If we want candidates elected who will represent us, we need to get out and vote for people who care about the values that we do.

Particularly around midterms, it’s common to hear people complaining about politics. Often, people feel that voting itself is useless. I can think of a couple dozen times off the top of my head where classmates said something along the lines of, “All of the candidates suck, so why should I vote at all?”

This points out a major problem in the system. When incumbents win over and over again with low voter turnout, they continue to gain more and more power. This creates a power vacuum where geriatric politicians seem to be unbeatable. Because of this, politicians on both sides of the aisle can sit in their seats for years with no legitimate challengers. 

If we want to see meaningful changes in power structures in the United States, we need to vote. Not just in national elections or general elections, but every single election. Change starts on the local level. While you may not care about who your county commissioner is, your congressman absolutely does. 

We need to get out and vote for local candidates that we care about. We need to show those in power that we care about who represents us and who creates policy. 

Bringing issues we care about to the forefront through local elections demonstrates two key things; it can enact change on the local level and it shows national politicians that we are willing to take on tough fights.

Here in Massachusetts, we see the effects of local policies firsthand. We have protections on abortion rights and are beginning to take action on climate change. While this does not solve these issues, it demonstrates that meaningful change can happen on the local and state levels. 

Enacting this local change also demonstrates to national politicians that the people want change. We put local politicians in a position where they can push national leaders to enact policy, or it enables them to run for higher office and initiate the change themselves.

If you care at all about our future as a nation, vote. In every single election, vote. And if there’s truly nobody that you support, run for office yourself. We have the power to change public discourse in this country, so let’s take action and do it.

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@woodringwill