Working the front desk in the journalism department at school means having a flat screen in front of me that’s always tuned into CNN and this past Monday, “the great debate” coverage took over.
I watched as news anchors introduced special guests such as Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz and two students from the school. While interviewing these two students favoring opposing candidates, the anchors kept bringing up the hot topic of millennials voting.
The anchor explained that many young people are deterred from voting in this particular election, the main reason being that all we have seen is non-stop bickering within and between the parties. In short, our first dance with democracy hasn’t been a great one.
It is one of, if not the first time we are eligible to vote in a presidential election and this has been QUITE the race. I understand millennials feeling discouraged from “rocking the vote”, yet I’ve watched the same debates and news coverage as others and I wouldn’t dream of staying home on November 8th.
When I watch our two potential leaders arguing onstage, it only reminds me how important voting is. Many people claim to detest Clinton, but feel morally compromised when it comes to voting for Trump. You are justified in these feelings (Clinton wasn’t my first choice either), but vote anyway. CNN repeatedly says that young people are discouraged and disappointed by the election; that’s fine but buck up and vote!
I always encourage people to vote even if they don’t feel well represented by the candidates. I tell them what my mom told me: look at the issues and pick the candidate whose stance aligns with yours. People choosing to not vote have always been bothersome to me, but I have no tolerance in this particular election because the magnitude of it needs to be treated as such.
This is not the election for “statement” or “protest” voting.
Whatever you want to call it, it’s choosing to have no voice in an election that deserves screams.
In the words of President Obama, “If you don't vote, that's a vote for Trump. If you vote for a third party candidate, that's a vote for Trump.”
It’s become clear to me and many others that the two party system is a flawed one. Everyone I know has an opinion on this election, whether they outwardly express it or not. Many feel backed up into a corner by the election, but yelling “we shouldn’t have a two party system anyway” won’t get you out of that corner. Your civic duties remain the same.
Third party voters might argue, “I don’t want to pick the lesser of two evils! That doesn’t feel democratic either!” Dismissing the election with “I don’t like either of them” may have worked in past presidential races, but it doesn’t work here. With the polls being this close, you’ll wish you made an appearance at your precinct the first time our new leader makes a decision you disagree with.
The point is that democracy might feel unfair right now, but stubbornly turning a blind eye is unfair to every citizen of this country. Voting for a third party, essentially throwing away your vote, is a slap in the face, but not voting is a punch in the gut.
That being said, I’d much rather someone exercise their civil rights than not vote at all. However, I won’t conceal my disappointment third party voters choosing to sit idly by while one of the two main parties wins. We all know that either Clinton or Trump will be president for the next four years so for the love of the country, vote for the one you think is more fit.