Neil Joseph | Tuesday, October 25, 2016
In a couple weeks, the election season will (finally) be over. For much of my life, this could not have come sooner — living in Ohio really makes watching TV quite the political affair. And today, in this year, I feel no different. This campaign cycle has been ugly, annoying and quite frankly a train wreck that most of the country can’t tear their eyes from. I’m ready to get past the constant talk from every person on every TV channel about the election. I’m ready to get past the articles from people like me about why you should think a certain way. And I’m ready to get past Donald Trump.
Amidst all of this, however, one must step back and realize what the last year of craziness has been for. It’s a lot to handle (or not handle). It’s a lot to have to deal with and for many people, the campaigns and the constant saturation of political information is not something that they particularly desire whatsoever. But the last year is the basis for what makes our country the power that is has been and will continue to be. Regardless of your political views, the fact that people around the country are able to discuss important issues, disagree with each other and say what they believe in is vitally important. It’s something that all people in free countries take for granted. We don’t realize the amount of countries throughout the world that have it different, and how that impacts the daily lives of their citizens.
In the United States, we criticize one another for political beliefs. We think that the approaches that others take are silly, inefficient or wrong. The ability to do that is just commonly taken as something that normally happens — but it’s not. In many countries around the world, those who disagree with the authority or who disagree with a certain view are silenced. They are not allowed to speak their mind and respectfully disagree. They are punished for their views and some are even killed for what they believe in.
Along with that, we as Americans take the right to vote for granted far too often. We don’t think about how precious of a gift that is. It’s an issue that the average turnout in a presidential election is between 50 and 65 percent. In other countries around the world, groups of people (sometimes entire populations of countries) are literally dying in order to secure the right to vote for themselves and other citizens of their county. The ability to have some impact on one’s own government (and thus one’s own destiny) should not be taken lightly. It’s something that millions of people around the world don’t know and yearn for. With this great privilege comes a responsibility to exercise our right to vote, in every circumstance.
Voting is something that many people take lightly. A lot of people don’t care to research candidates. From school board to justices to state senators, every vote that you make is important. It shapes the future of our country. It shapes our laws, our people, our future children and our institutions. So vote. It’s not easy. It takes time to research issues, people and candidates. It takes thought and consideration and hard work to really discover what each person stands for and why you should (or should not) vote for them. But that work is a small price to pay for having an impact on one’s country. It’s what our founders envisioned, and it’s what so many people around the world yearn for so dearly. Just vote.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.