Western Courier

Your vote: Use it or lose it

Brendan Monahan

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Two things have long been sacred cows in conversations: politics and religion. It’s time to change things, and to do this, let’s throw out the sacred part and have a barbecue. Thomas Jefferson said “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” The government of the United States was formed by the people and for the people; our values, beliefs, and thoughts shape the government, the nation, even the presidency.

Since 1787, we have lived under a republic built to defend the American voter. The American voter has changed and voting rights have been expanded over the last two centuries, but the fundamental idea that Americans choose their own government and voice their opinions has remained unwavering.

The people’s voice is seen in the vote and its effects throughout government in many ways from determining elected representatives, to expressing desires for state laws and changing the Constitution. Yet, in the 2008 Presidential election, over 225,000 voters turned out to support their candidates and though this is a massive number of people choosing to exercise their right to vote there was unhappiness. Admittedly, those who lose the election are often unhappy.

In addition, 2008 showed the number of young voters ages 18 to 24 grew more substantially compared to previous years. This is good news, or so it would seem, except that when looking at the numbers from the Census Bureau, it shows that less than 50 percent of those under 24 voted in the last Presidential election.

This is a problem, not just for the young voters and their generation, who will inherit a number of problems from current political promises, but for all of America. People under 24 have lifetimes ahead of them. Their voices need to be heard because they are going to contend with today’s political problems and “solutions.”

I am sure many would say, “Politics aren’t interesting,” or “I don’t understand politics.” To these naysayers, I respond: how often have you complained that your voice isn’t listened to? How often have you complained that about the roads or the schools, about how taxes seem unfair or about how the environment is being treated?

With less than half of those under 24 voting, America has a problem. Its voice is being stifled, not necessarily intentionally or deliberately, but because America has long held politics to be one of its sacred cows that nobody had better attack or talk about. It’s time to change that.

America needs a voice, an informed voice, a voice of good conscience, good ideas and hope that the American dream is alive and kicking. It needs a complete voice to help guide it through the storm of hate, bickering, and partisan politics that so often are the only thing being reported on and shown to the country and the world at large. America needs its voice to grow and change to become better, stronger, and more productive to ensure that children’s lives are better than our own.

So to this end, politics need to be demystified and talked about, not in terms of right or left, or even it terms of right or wrong, but how politics affect our everyday lives and why it is paramount that Americans understand their system so they can cast informed votes for the candidate or issue of their choice in all elections, not just presidential ones.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Your vote: Use it or lose it