Today, make your voice heard by heading to the polls. Find your polling place, and exercise your right to be an active participant in your government.
When I hear about millions of Afghanis or Iraqis who risk their lives to go to the polls, not just to vote for a candidate, but to vote for their confidence in democracy, it depresses me to see that close to half of voting-age Americans don’t vote in presidential elections. In midterm elections, on average only about 40 percent of us show up.
Democracy only asks one thing from you in return for the freedom, prosperity and security we Americans often take for granted: Vote.
American soldiers and Iraqi and Afghani citizens have died for the right to vote. My ancestors fought in our own revolution so I can vote today. To me, not voting is a cavalier dismissal of the sacrifices these people made so we can live in a society where our voices matter.
I get why people are discouraged with government these days. I know I am. Two years after we were promised change is Washington, we still don’t have climate legislation or immigration reform. If anything our government has become more partisan and our politicians have become more intractable.
But that’s not an excuse to give up. Even though one-quarter of votes in the Afghani presidential and parlimentary elections were thrown out because of fraud in the Afghan presidential election. When Iraqi voters were intimidated and threatened with violence if they went to the polls, they didn’t give up.
As Americans who enjoy freedom of speech and religion, freedom from illegal searches and seizes, the right to bear arms and equal protection under the law it is our responsibility to uphold the government that guarantees these rights.
I vote to honor those who have died to protect or get the ability to vote. I vote because my government — even in it’s current state — protects my freedom to do, say and be whatever I dream. I vote because I believe that I owe it to everyone who doesn’t have a voice to exercise my right express mine.
And I’m asking you to vote too, just like Afghanis and Iraqis and me, because you believe in democracy.
By Emily V.