On the importance of voting

Felix Kalvesmaki and Julia Zaksek

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are probably among the most controversial presidential candidates in our young nation’s history. In an effort to avoid choosing between “the lesser of two evils,” many Americans are choosing to opt of this year’s election or vote for third party candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson.  But let’s get one thing clear: regardless of your political alignment, or lack thereof, you need to vote.

No, this isn’t debatable. If you have the ability, it’s your duty as an American citizen to elect an official into public office. Those who are choosing to abstain from voting don’t seem to understand that, while it is ultimately up to the electoral college who sits in the oval office come Jan. 20, your vote does still count. A few votes can change an election. A few votes can determine if the next leader of our country will lead us on the path to a greater human understanding or if they will lead us back into the confines of the past.

Let’s take a trip back to the mid-20th century. In the 1960 election of Kennedy v. Nixon, Kennedy won the popular vote by only a .1 percent margin, enabling him to win the electoral vote, and thus the presidency. But let’s emphasize that .1 percent. You’d need military-grade binoculars equipped with night vision to see how close that election was. And let’s remember, the American people loved Kennedy. His short time in office was widely celebrated, and there arguably hasn’t been a president as well-liked as him since.

So until Nixon’s election in 1969, we dodged a bullet. However, 1960 may seem like a different time.  The 2000 election of Bush v. Gore wasn’t as close as Kennedy v. Nixon, but there’s a bit of a plot twist. Gore actually won the popular vote with a 1 percent margin (rounded up, by the way), but due to Florida and their lack of liberal participation, Bush won the electoral college and therefore the presidency.

This is problematic because, in hindsight, Bush is generally not perceived as the best president – by everyone who didn’t vote for him and even by some that did. His response to 9/11 is widely regarded as ineffectual. He struggled to hunt down the leader of the attack, Osama Bin Laden, instead waging two costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Just as the cherry on top, he also still doesn’t believe in global warming, and never did in 2000.

To conclude, every vote matters, and that’s not just a cheesy slogan to stick on campaign posters. A vote is a powerful tool, one that can shape a civilization or bring it to its knees. Many say the past is a reflection of the future, but we like to take a more optimistic view. The past is a warning, one that we can ignore or one that we can take to heart. With all of this in mind, do you still think your vote doesn’t count?

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