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If You Don’t Vote, You Can’t Complain About the Government

Since Donald Trump basically clinched the Republican nomination and Hillary Clinton continued to lead in the Democratic primaries, I’ve seen a flood of social media posts, articles and even public figures stating that we are out of options and many people will opt to not vote in the 2016 presidential election. I can’t express how frustrating this notion is.

For years, activists have been trying to promote the “rock the vote” concept to young people, letting them know that it is their civic duty to vote. Does this concept not apply if we aren’t thrilled with the options? On the contrary, I think it’s all the more reason to get out to the polls and make a choice, even if it’s a hard choice. As young people, we are a crucial part of the electorate, and the outcome of elections such as this one could set the stage for our future and for future generations.

This election is particularly important for a few reasons. First of all, considering the ages of some current Supreme Court members and the open seat to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, it is possible that as many as three Supreme Court Justices could be replaced in the next presidential term. These people make hugely important decisions that affect our lives directly. We have a say in who appoints these important people, and we need to think about who is the best fit to make those decisions. It is also a very delicate time in foreign policy. In light of recent terrorist attacks around the world, we should choose the leader who is most educated and seasoned on making foreign policy decisions. Even if that person may not handle it exactly the way you like, it’s crucial the president have a deep understanding of foreign relations and how to handle terrorism. If you think banning an entire religious group from entering our country is the right way to handle the current situation with ISIS, you should vote for Donald Trump.

As a Democrat, I feel comfortable voting for Hillary Clinton. She may not be the ideal candidate to many people, but I believe most of the arguments against her are perpetuated heavily by the media and 25 years of unfair GOP attacks. I agree with her stances on most issues, and I think she has the experience and the strength to make a great president. However, I understand the conflict Republicans face at the idea of choosing a Democrat over a Republican. For those who feel this conflict, I encourage you to please take a look at where each of these candidates stand on the issues, forgetting for a moment their party affiliations. I challenge everyone reading this to do your research and really think before making this decision. The media tends to focus on the personalities of the candidates and “gotcha” moments. But what really matters are the issues. Read about the plans and platforms of each of the candidates. Think about who would really make a better president. Compare, contrast and make an educated choice. But please, I am begging you—Make that choice.

I have heard a few people mention their plans to vote for a third party candidate. Some say this is pointless, because in the past there have not been viable third party candidates and they can contribute to a similar major party candidate losing the election. While I somewhat agree with this notion, and I would probably never vote for a third party candidate for that reason, I believe part of the right to vote is to express what your true beliefs are. If that means not conforming to vote for a candidate they don’t agree with in core beliefs, that’s fine. Although I would not expect a third party candidate to win, citizens have every right to vote for any candidate on the ballot, or write in a candidate. What’s important is that those citizens went to the polls and made their voice heard in the form of a vote.

Regardless of who our nominees are, it is our civic duty to vote. We take for granted how lucky we are to have this right. Especially as American women, who gained the Constitutional right to vote less than 100 years ago, we cannot take this right for granted. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about what goes on in our government. 

Katherine Mirani is the News Editor for Her Campus. She graduated from Northwestern University's journalism school in 2015. Before joining Her Campus full time, she worked on investigative stories for Medill Watchdog and the Scripps News Washington Bureau. When not obsessing over journalism, Katherine enjoys pasta, ridiculous action movies, #longreads, and her cockatiel, Oreo.