Every election we are treated to the almost obligatory articles decrying the lack of voter enthusiasm in America’s youth. Liberals in the media are distraught about this because they assume that they own the youth vote. This is especially apparent whenever the mid-term elections roll around. Without the celebrity and excitement of a Presidential Election, the left simply lacks the ability to attract sufficient attention from the youth amidst all the noise of distractions of modern society.
The problem is, it’s hard to get people to vote based on selfish designs for a utopian dream, when those dreams never seem to be getting accomplished. In this way, it seems, the cheapening of the American idea has led to greater disenfranchisement among the youth. All they see in the political process is frustration and turmoil.
While I certainly sympathize with the sentiment that voting seems to be a waste at times, it strikes me that much of the problem lies in the lack of proper civic understanding. Voting is not just an act of activism, it is a duty and a precious gift, and I don’t think our education system is doing much to convey that message. When you’re too busy trying to teach kids that everything in America’s past is a horrible history of abuse, racism, and greed, it’s hard to also teach them what a privilege it is for them to be an American with the right to have a voice in the political process.
So here goes.
America was founded on the idea that every human being has been granted by God certain natural rights. Inherent in every person is a certain amount of power along with which comes a certain amount of responsibility. If you choose not to accept that responsibility, then you forfeit that power. This is certainly the case when it comes to voting. Your failure to wield your power as an individual in our Constitutional Republic leaves a vacuum that will be filled by somebody who is, and often times, as we see; those people have their own personal interests at heart, and not those of the people. In this way, the politics we despise are a creation of our own apathy. If we don’t vote, or if we vote superficially based on the latest cause celebre, then we are just as responsible. We can decry the corruption and deceit in our political system, but until we are prepared to do our part we simply elect by default the very things we hate.
Now, please understand that voting itself is not enough to fully possess your power. Your vote must be informed, not just by others but by your own core beliefs and conscience. And most importantly, by the principles our nation was founded on. You must educate yourself about the high-minded ideals our nation was intended to serve. Understand why these things are so rare and important that millions have been willing to die for them. The Founders understood that as humans we would not always live up to what was good and true about those principles. But every election is another opportunity to reach for that high bar, and to justify the sacrifices of those that came before us.
So I’ve given you some homework. Like anything good in life, you have to apply the effort to make this country happen, and it’s a small sacrifice in comparison to some who came before us. You can accept this challenge, and become part of the solution, or reject it and choose to keep what you have. Because I can guarantee you that not voting will not make anything better. Who knows? You might be voting today for the changes that will make it worth voting in the future, and I think that chance alone makes it worth doing.