Get involved: cast your vote

If you haven’t already heard, we are in the midst of the nation’s presidential race. Presidential hopefuls are stepping up to the podium and advocating for themselves, providing reasons as to why they are the best option for the role of President of the United States and poll results are being calculated rapidly as primaries and caucuses are sweeping the nation. Some candidates are sticking to the competition, while others end their bids. No matter who you support if anyone at all, whether you’re Republican or Democrat or anywhere in between, we as the people of the United States have an opportunity to cast our votes and help determine who gets to sit in the Oval Office.

So why am I writing this to you? Why is this in The Experience? For this upcoming election, it is of utmost importance that we cast our vote in the primary and general elections. I’ve been taught to think that voting is the chance for my concerns and desires to be brought up in the political sphere. I also believe in the saying, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain”— and that holds true in this election as well.

It’s known that voter groups aged 18-24 have one of the lowest turnouts at the polls. A common argument defending this statistic is the pessimistic “My vote doesn’t count, so why bother?” Now I’m not saying that one vote will drastically change the entire political system —things don’t work that way — however when we cast our vote, it delivers a message.

When voters in my age bracket go to the polls and vote for the candidate they want to see in office, it not only aids in determining who becomes the President, but it also reflects a well-informed and proactive group of people. To be politically engaged is an asset to us, not only as a society but individually as well. When one is politically engaged, they will no longer be easily swayed by a smooth-talking politician’s rhetoric, but can pick apart their arguments and finally utilize the critical thinking skills acquired in English class. When one actively decides to not be politically engaged and forfeits their vote, they then forfeit the “privilege” of complaining about the election results. If you are not politically active/engaged and want to be, here are some ways to become so:

  • Get access to a news source. You can read a newspaper, download apps onto your phone/tablet (I personally recommend NPR and BBC, amongst others), watch your favorite news station or even “Like” news sources on Facebook or follow your favorite sources on Twitter.
  • Engage in (civil) conversation with others. Find out what other people think about an issue and try to come to your own conclusion. Talk to your parents, siblings, friends, etc. If you like a challenge, try to engage in conversation with someone who you know disagrees with you. By learning and understanding different viewpoints, you not only gain invaluable knowledge about the issue but have a better opportunity to better process your stance on it.
  • Join the Debate Team! Now it’s not because I’m Vice President of the Debate Society or anything (noooo). We meet every Wednesday from 4-7pm and we debate current issues happening here in the U.S. and abroad. If you are seeking to become even more politically engaged, check us out!

It is important for us, as the student body of LMC, as residents of Contra Costa County, as Bay Area residents, and as citizens of the United States to vote in this upcoming election. Whether you’re in the 18-24 year old demographic or not, having a well-informed and politically-engaged society helps determine the course of action for the nation. One may think that they’re just an 18-year-old attending LMC, but that individual will become a part of a new generation that makes the policies and determines what’s good for America. It’s better to be engaged now than it is to wait until later. So remember: vote in June and November.