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A response to “No vote: Still political”

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A response to “No vote: Still political”

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In the last edition of the University News, there was an editorial piece titled “No Vote: Still Political.” The author of the piece explained their decision not to vote in the most recent elections. The piece agitated me, but I still read it several times just to make sure I could understand where the author was coming from and what they were thinking.

The author offered an analogy of love and voting. They say, “Love is hardly ever a one-way street. It must almost always be a two-way thoroughfare, to accommodate two different people.” Voting can’t be a two-way street or a “collaboration,” as the author describes, without people voting. If voting is meant to be a two-way street and a collaboration, protesting the system provides nothing to it. I offer another analogy in response: choosing not to vote is like refusing to go to class because the professor doesn’t pronounce your name correctly. In both situations, you have to actively be involved to get any real benefits. You gain nothing from not participating.

The right to vote is one of the most consequential; it’s an ability to participate in a democratic process. In the west, we often take our democracies for granted. Our right to choose our leaders is a privilege that is not given equally to all countries. In the United States of America, we are so privileged to even be able to use the right to vote without fear of punishment, that in itself should be an encouragement to vote. And even though sometimes our democratic process may seem undemocratic, that is still no excuse not to participate.

Some of my closest mentors have often repeated to me, “If you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu.” That is an analogy that crosses partisan lines. Whatever issues you care about, whatever your opinion on anything, whether you’re Democratic or Republican, Socialist, Libertarian, Independent or Undecided, you have to show up and voice your opinion. Our democracy is healthier because of discourse and deliberation, not weaker. We have to show up to vote.

I am not privileged enough not to participate. Someone died for my right to vote. I do not have the luxury of standing on the sidelines because something doesn’t go my way. As an African American male, I represent a group who received the full right to vote only 60 years ago. For 189 years in this country, a majority of its existence, people who looked like me were not fully able to vote and I’ll be damned if I squandered that right. I am obliged to participate. Our democracy works most efficiently when we all participate. The “collaboration” only works if you participate.

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A response to “No vote: Still political”