Nineteen and Voting

If the primaries had ended differently, there would be no question about where my vote would go this November. But they ended how they ended, and now I have a lot to think about. After all, this is the first major election I’m able to vote in.

I’m only nineteen years old. I’ve never filed income taxes; I’ve never paid for health insurance; I don’t pay my car note, or even my phone bill. I don’t mean to say this to give in to this stereotype of “Millenials” as lazy and underachieving, because I’m not. I’m paying for my higher education, I work during school breaks but not during the school year because I prioritize my academics–which I do very well (with a 3.75 grade point average) and I’m pursuing a career that, although not lucrative, will sustain me and make me happy. I’m responsible and educated.

My point is that I haven’t lived a lot. I wasn’t alive for the Gulf War; I was five when the US invaded Iraq. I don’t remember when the Twin Towers fell. I was eleven when the stock market crashed. It means I don’t tend to see these events in an emotional light, but rather in an objective one. I see them in the same way a student sees any historical event they’re taught about in class–i.e. here is what happened, here is why it happened, and here are its effects.

A major historical event that has shaped our country’s entire path since it happened? Bipartisanship. Just as George Washington was making his speech about how doing the thing was not a good idea, America…Well, America was doing the thing.

I’m Southern, which means I’m supposed to be Conservative. I’m also female, young, and Mexican, which means I’m…not. But that doesn’t mean my views align with the deemed “Left” party of the United States, or that my vote is guaranteed one way. Why? Because Democrats aren’t the only Leftists on the ballot. Jill Stein is a completely legitimate and far more left candidate. Conversely, Republicans aren’t the only Rightists on the ballot; Gary Johnson will represent the Libertarian party.

Then comes the question; is your vote really worth anything if you vote outside of the bipartisan system? Can a system really be effective when its two parties are closer to moderate than any other candidate on the ballot? If I don’t agree with any candidate’s views 100% how do I know which one is for me? How can anything be effectively done when our political system was designed to make it almost impossible to create change unless there’s an overwhelming majority of a single party in power? How can we expect any party to come into power when political divides become starker after every debate?

I’ve been thinking about effective democracy because we just finished talking about Athenian democracy in my history course. I liked Athenian democracy because it didn’t care about political affiliation. Athenian democracy considered every man’s opinion on every topic and worked under majority rule. While I understand Athenian democracy is impractical given the size of our country, it sounds like a refreshing change compared to electing whichever candidate you disagree with less.

Regardless of who you vote for, it’s your civic duty to step up and be a part of the change our country is in need of. Voting can be confusing, but that’s what Hank Green is for. Find the video for your state and take some time out of your day to be an active part of our country’s future.

-HH

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