“I’m going to move to Canada if [so-and-so] wins” is something I’ve heard some people say lately. You’ve probably heard this, too, and may have even reiterated the notion at some point. I get it. With the weight of constitutional responsibility on your shoulders, I know it seems simpler to leave the country than to vote. When you are constantly bombarded by a megaphone of half-truths reveling in your opponent’s minor victories and ignoring your fervor, it’s only natural to feel demoralized. Instead of focusing on the things that will make you want to leave, conversely, consider this: What would make you stay? Are you willing to fight for it?
The suggestion to abandon social consciousness, even in a lighthearted manner, is troubling to me. So many individuals have casually accepted this defeatist mentality without realizing the psychology of modern politics. Those in power want your complacency and have skewed the access of information in order to get it. Don’t let yourself be duped so easily.
Refusing to participate in the political process as a way of “protesting” is not effective. By not challenging the leadership, you are actually perpetuating the feedback loop of forfeited democracy. You can’t start movements with apathy.
If you truly don’t feel like you can change anything, start small. Get involved in your local governments or, at the very least, seek out information. If you don’t take part, others — namely those with a commercial agenda — will make a decision in your place. Policymakers, who enact bills into laws, will function in the interest of the sponsors that put them into office and, if that includes an overwhelming majority of business cohorts, the terrifying result is that they will no longer be invested in serving the common person (read: the United States of America).
The situation may seem grim, but the wonderful news is that approximately 88% of Congress will be up for election in November. That is a total of 469 out of 535 seats in the U.S. Congress (34 Senate seats and all 435 House seats). Let me clarify why it is significant:
Representatives serve in the House in 2-year intervals and senators in 6-year intervals; these congressmen have no term limit, which means they can be re-elected indefinitely, unlike the restrictions on presidential tenure.
The country has been operating with politicians that are not doing anyone any favors except for themselves. The bulk of Congress that chronically puts money before human safety puts us in jeopardy; we end up with disastrous outcomes that could have been averted, like Hurricane Katrina and the resulting management of the Flint water crisis. You have an opportunity to oust the politicians that have become wildly ineffective, essentially an obstacle, for the health and well-being of the nation. It’s time we vote out the bought out.
I know so many people who feel like their voice is insignificant, so they don’t bother to participate. I understand. It took me almost a decade to get my head out of the sand. I was content with living my life, so long as these seemingly far-off politics didn’t affect me. But it is inherently part of my life and yours; and it’s gotten to a point where we cannot risk ignoring it any longer. Be aware. Take a stand. Demonstrate tenacity. (WRITE IN the name of your favored candidate on the ballot, if you have to.) You don’t have to settle for what is presented to you, especially when there could be something better. I can guarantee you that there will be a difference; and it will be because of you.
Stating your party preference on a registration form can be paralyzing, especially when the stakes are this high. Some end up following the preference of their household, slapping on a political label that, in the end, is trivial. So, instead of focusing on these labels, imagine each candidate as someone you would want to invest a lasting relationship with. Would it endure? Sharing the same position on specified topics is certainly valuable, but it not enough to maintain over the years. Character matters.
I urge you, DO NOT let the whole “Democrat VS Republican” labeling be a major reason why you would choose one candidate over the other (or none at all). The notions of “Blue No Matter Who” and “Red Until I’m Dead” pigeonholes the complexities of the American people and undermines other pragmatic options that are available but often overlooked. What is important is that you focus on a candidate that possesses integrity, veracity, and reliability. These are the traits that don’t change based on the political tides.
We need a president and representatives who epitomize these qualities, who stress national solidarity instead of divisive rhetoric; who is fighting to provide your children with a means to an education instead of marching them off to war. Someone who is more alarmed about the state of our world rather than the future of their bank account. Find an official that has a history of upholding their principles instead of retracting their statements; who encourages you to keep asking questions instead of finding ways to silence you.
Candidates of this kind are so few and far between, they are practically legendary. If you have a rare chance to acknowledge these ideals and join them in a fight for a future to believe in, I would hope that you will take it. We can no longer tolerate the immeasurable greed that is consuming our country, infecting the only global home we have. Be a part of something bigger than yourselves. Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.