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Election day

| Tuesday, November 6, 2018

You should vote today.

Today is Election Day. Finally. I don’t know about you, but I was getting a little tired of Senator Joe Donnelly’s wood chopping ad that airs every 20 minutes. I didn’t want to see another second of some negative ad campaign about candidates who hate guns or want to cut your Social Security benefits in half. And I couldn’t bear to read one more tweet from a celebrity about how this is the single most important election of our lifetime, and that it is our civic duty to go out and vote. I know they’re just doing the same thing I’m trying to do here, but each one I read came off as sanctimonious, annoying, as a pretentious wealthy person telling regular Americans what to do.

But they’re right. It is our civic duty, and this could be the most important election of our lifetime. The country has not seen this level of division and partisanship in decades. Republicans and Democrats spew vitriol at one another on the most public of stages. This rhetoric in part inspired the actions of Cesar Altieri Sayoc, who allegedly mailed 15 pipe bombs to prominent Democrats. The Oct. 27 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, in which 11 were killed, is just another example of the hate that has become popular again in the United States.

A change in leadership may be the only way to end it. It looks like we may have one, too. The Democrats are poised to take back the House and prevent President Trump from completing his agenda for the remainder of his term. Though it appears the Senate will remain in Republican hands, it’s possible a number of seats — including those in Texas and Arizona — will flip.

You should vote today. I know it’s a Tuesday and you’re busy, and I know the polling place is far and the lines are long and you just don’t know how much of a difference you will make. But you should vote today. It doesn’t matter for whom. If you don’t, you are saying you’re content with the state of the country. Nothing’s in need of improvement. If you don’t, you lose the right to utter a single complaint against your representatives. If you don’t, you’re not selecting “none of the above.” You’re not protesting the candidates or the system or anything else. You’re just rejecting our democracy and your place in it.

We don’t have to resign ourselves to a political future that ignores our wants. If we realize that shaping the policies and direction of the country is in our hands, I know there will be brighter days ahead for America. Government is not some abstract entity made up of alien leaders divorced from the needs of its people — at least it shouldn’t be. It should be you and me. It should be where everyone in the country can come together, a place where every voice is heard. And that’s exactly what it can be if you vote today.

Patrick McKelvey splits his time between being a college junior and a grumpy old man. A New Jersey native and American studies major, he plans on pursuing a legal career after graduating Notre Dame. If you can’t find him at the movies, he can be reached for comment at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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