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Voting in the 2020 presidential election

| Wednesday, October 21, 2020

I’d like to start by saying that this is not meant to be a partisan letter. I also want to note that when I write about disagreement, I am speaking about political disagreement, and political disagreement only. There are issues of human rights that don’t invite debate (e.g. the rights of people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other historically marginalized communities, to name just a couple of examples), and those issues are not what I am talking about. So here goes. 

  1. If you are at least 18 years old and a citizen of the United States, you are eligible to vote in the 2020 election. This may seem obvious, but it doesn’t just apply to you. It applies to your friends and political enemies as well. If someone is voting for the candidate you oppose, they have the right to do so. I didn’t say it was going to be easy to vote in the 2020 election.
  2. The Republican and Democratic political parties have complex, conflicting histories. The way they look today says little about the ideals they were founded on. Choosing a political party has almost nothing to do with Trump or Biden, and I would argue that every voter should look up the histories of BOTH parties before allowing one to determine how they might vote. 
  3. Speaking of parties, no one said you have to choose one! Culturally, it feels like we must choose a side and label the other side as just that — “other”. In any election — and I would say especially in this one — voters should choose a candidate, not a party. I’m going to exercise some caution here and note that political parties aren’t bad, but when we allow them to completely determine our actions, we give them a power over our own ability to exercise judgement as independent voters. 
  4. As students of the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross tri-campus community, we have a number of opportunities in this election that other communities do not have. First of all, we are here (not HERE — this isn’t meant to be a joke). We’ve been able to be on campus, which means that we get to be a part of a real, in-person learning community. We can benefit from productive conversation with each other, and as students living away from home right now, we have the space to think critically about our own values and how to uphold them with our vote. Second, we are students of high-level institutions that are dedicated to increasing our factual knowledge. Our libraries (not just places to grind out work, surprisingly) give us unique access to factual, reliable information that is crucial to us as voters. The internet just isn’t always correct, and our libraries aren’t ancient — you can find books written as late as 2020 in them. You can also use library search databases to find information from your own laptop, in any location, so “library” does not necessarily mean “book” or “club Hes.” And lastly, we all enjoy the privilege of education (I’m not saying we’re all privileged to the same degree, but we are all students which is a privilege in itself), which brings me to a point of opinion. I believe that as students, we have a duty to use our education as a force for good in the world. The “good” can look like a lot of different things, which is the beauty of our different interests. But I think that there is a “good” we can strive for right now, before graduating, that can have a real impact in our country. We can talk to each other, use factual information, and learn from our classes, which will help us all to make informed votes. An informed vote is something that can greatly help the U.S. right now. 

So, in light of these few points, let’s strive not just to vote, but to know who and what we are voting for. Let’s remember that our vote has an impact — it’s a civic duty, and one that holds a significant weight in our democracy. And let’s choose to not allow political polarization to paint an inherently negative picture of those who we disagree with. We are all capable of learning and changing, and at the end of the day, we all deserve to be loved. With that in mind, let’s do this. Election 2020, here come the Irish, Belles and Saints. 

Elise Fahrenbach


Oct. 16

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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