As children, we dream of the magic number 18. Eighteen is official adulthood, moving out and doing all the things our parents do for us as children. Eighteen is also the beginning of the privilege of voting.
For years I’ve been told how important it is to vote. It’s my voice being heard, and the opportunity for me to make a decision I believe will impact the good of more than just myself. I can choose how I believe the city of Tulsa should spend its money. I can choose who I believe will make the best decisions for my city, state and country.
I’m 20 years old now. This presidential election will be the first I am eligible to participate in. I have everything I have been taught about voting to consider, but I have no idea what I’m going to do. Looking at the two major nominees, I have asked myself whether or not I should even participate in this election. Neither major candidate’s values really align with mine. I’m not confident in the third party options either. Not voting seems like a viable option. I wouldn’t have to choose someone I don’t believe in.
I have also weighed the candidates in relation to each other, attempting to consider which is the “lesser of the two evils.” This option isn’t ideal either. Going to vote and choosing a candidate based on who is less terrible isn’t the way I want to make decisions.
Do I vote for a candidate simply so the other one won’t win? I don’t want my choice to be an “anti-vote.” I think part of the reason the country is in this state is because we are voting against what we don’t want, rather than voting for what we do want.
The next president will likely choose a minimum of two Supreme Court justices, affecting the direction of the highest court in the nation for an indefinable number of years into the future. Major bills are coming into consideration, including the Affordable Healthcare Act. The next president will have influence far past their four- or eight-year term.
So while I don’t know who I’m voting for yet, it’s ok. The true importance of voting comes from examining the beliefs I hold not just for today, but for the future of my country, and selecting a candidate who will make decisions most closely aligned with those standards.
No candidate will be the savior of the entire country, but if every person who says, “my vote doesn’t count” actually votes, we could change what the United States looks like. Vote. It’s the responsible and respectable thing to do.