OPINION: Citizens owe it to their nation to vote

Arnav Damodhar | Associate Editor

It just doesn’t add up.

In an ideal nation, the average citizen votes. The average citizen has faith in the system. The average citizen is politically conscious. However, in a nation with 330 million people, only 60 percent of the eligible population votes in presidential elections, and the number is even lower for midterm and local elections.

For us, the ballot isn’t a privilege: it’s a responsibility We take for granted that we have a choice to choose our leaders, while countries like North  Korea and Saudi Arabia don’t. We forget that it is our responsibility, not merely a  privilege, to question the government. We lose focus of the fact that we owe it to our prosperity to choose our leaders. We don’t remember that we must cultivate change.

Rather than finding a solution, we shift the burden. We expect our leaders to figure out the solution to gun violence. We expect our leaders to repair the broken immigration system. We expect our leaders to get the economy back on its feet. Our expectations are purely valid, but what is invalid is that we blame the status of our great nation on our leaders, when we ourselves didn’t fulfill our civic responsibility. We feign that we are powerless, but it is we that give power to the government. After all, it is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

On November 8, millions of people will take to the voting polls to cast their ballot. But, there will be many more millions who don’t. We believe that Trump is Satan and Hillary is Lucifer. We think their vote doesn’t matter. We can’t get to the polls. Or simply, because we just don’t have the time.

This election will be the difference between building a wall and building a bridge. This election will be the difference between promoting gun control and restricting it. This election will be the difference between stopping terrorism and agitating it.

About 50 years ago, more than 200,000 people marched on Washington and witnessed Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his well renowned “I have a dream” speech, advocating to end racism. Through his assembly and protest, Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers battled the ongoing predicament of racism.  If it weren’t for this monumental act of citizenship, blacks in our country would have to pay a tax on November 8.

The 21st century is an era of uncertainty. But, there is one thing that is certain. It is that, if the Americans do not lose hope in our democratic system, invigoratingly voice out their opinions, embodying the various aspects of citizenship, America can resolve its problems.  America’s biggest strength is not its military, or its economy, but its citizens.

Even if you don’t want to vote, vote.

If not Trump or  Clinton, pick Gary Johnson. If not Gary Johnson, pick Jill Stein. If you are utterly disgusted, nominate. If you don’t have the time, mail in your ballot.  Do something. Pick someone. Make your voice be heard.

We owe it. We owe it to our founding fathers. We owe it to our veterans. We owe it to our children.