Be the Change You Want To See

If you are 18 years or older and are eligible to vote in your state, click here. This may be one of the most important elections of our time, so if you can vote, DO IT!

*Note: I will be inserting voter registration links all throughout this article, and you may or may not hate me by the time you’re done reading, but I don’t care, as long as you VOTE!

 

In March of 2016, I turned 18, and that was a big deal because it meant a few things:

  1. I could legally buy cigarettes. (I’m not a smoker but if I were —— you get the idea.)

  2. I could get a tattoo or piercing without a parents consent. (Sorry Mom and Dad!)

  3. I could say things like, “Mom, I’m an adult now, I can take care of myself…but can you still call and make my doctors appointment?” (True story; I’m 20 and still do that!)

  4. As an adult in the eyes of the law, I could vote and have a say in  future elections.

Yes, turning 18 is great! You may not look a day older than 17, but you feel like you’re finally seen as more than just a kid. But with all the celebrations comes a great responsibility: having a say in something that will not only affect your life, but the life of every other American. To every person reading this, your vote counts! Voting is a right in this country, but it’s also a privilege, so whoever you vote for, whatever you believe in, these upcoming elections are too important not to vote!

 

Now, with all these new responsibilities, you may feel as though you’ve aged a whole decade! But it’s our voices that need to be heard! Use this newly acquired superpower and do what you can to create change! Every year, more and more young adults turn 18 and are adding to the growing political force that is made up of young voters. In fact, 46 million Americans ages 18-29 are eligible to vote while only 39 million seniors over age 65 are eligible. Although this gives a strong voice to the younger people of the country, the older generations are still out-voting us by millions. Can you imagine what our country would be like today if every eligible young adult voted during the 2016 presidential elections? Maybe things would’ve been different, maybe not, we can’t change the past, but we can do something about the future! We’ll never know the power of our young people unless we encourage each other to get out there and vote! Don’t believe me? I’ll let some old people scare you into it, check this out.

 

Feel like voting yet?

 

In the 2016 elections, 71% of adults age 65 and over voted, while only 46% of people ages 18-26 voted. This data only furthers the trend that older generations significantly outweigh the younger generations when it comes to voting on election day. These facts are surprising to hear given how active young adults, especially students, are when it comes to political reform. Just this year, the student-led “March For Our Lives” rally had nearly 1.2 million people across the country marching for gun control, making it one of the biggest youth-led protests in history! Take the rallies during the Vietnam War and the Black Lives Matter movement as other examples of young people coming together and fighting for change. For some reason, the work of young activists can make history, but we can’t seem to make it to the polls where it matters most, and this needs to change.

 

Of course, there are all kinds of reasons you may argue not to vote: “Politicians are self-interested and corrupt,” “None of the candidates represent my views,” or “I’m just one person out of the millions who are voting, who cares?” Some of this may be true, but not all of it all the time. It’s inevitable that you may not agree with everything a particular candidate stands for, but you can find someone who represents your values in some way. Some politicians may be corrupt, but many are honest and committed to bringing their ideas to life. Some elections are landslides, but others turn on just a few hundred votes. Choosing not to vote means choosing to ignore an opportunity to participate in something that affects all Americans. That’s the easy way out and accomplishes very little. At the end of the day, it’s all about how you want to exercise your rights to speak up and vote on behalf of the things that matter most to you.

To the person reading this right now, please vote. We have to act, and our basic means of acting is voting. Yes, it takes effort. It takes educating yourself. Living in a Democracy takes work. You may not know what you believe in, but you do know what needs to be done to make real change. So keep yourself informed, take your time and do your research so that you can make the best decision possible. This is our chance to express what we value as a generation, to exercise our constitutional rights and obligations, to use this opportunity to make our voices heard and to change the way we represent ourselves and our values. All you have to do is vote, and the rest is history. One day, we’ll be the older generation telling the younger ones of the time when we were their age and had the opportunity to participate in something bigger than ourselves.

 

And in the end, when they ask us if we voted, I hope we all can say, “Hell yeah I did!”