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Importance of Voting

Madeleine Walker ’19
When I was standing at the [purposely unnamed, politically partisan] club table at the activities fair and asking passersby to sign up, at least a dozen responded with “Nah, I don’t get into that stuff. I don’t mess with politics.” 
You don’t mess with politics? That’s like wandering into the deep woods of Minnesota, having a bear start to charge you, and instead of doing something to potentially save your own life, just saying, “Nah, I don’t mess with bears.” Whether or not you mess with bears, the bear will mess with you. It’s the same thing with politics.

If you are in the United States, you are subject to its laws and authorities. That’s a given. Even if you don’t agree with the law, you weren’t alive when it was created, or you aren’t a citizen, you legally cannot jaywalk. Or commit manslaughter. Or vandalize private property. But, if you are a citizen of the United States, you have been blessed with the opportunity to change laws and switch out many of the authorities. I personally think it’s a privilege to be a citizen of this nation, but even if you view these laws and authorities as being forced on you, isn’t that all the more reason to partake? If you’re being forced to eat a sandwich and given options of what to put in it, you may as well enjoy it, even if you’re not particularly hungry. Plus, who knows? Maybe it’ll benefit you even more later.

I will not be 18 and able to register to vote until 2019, but you can bet that I’m counting down the days. Why? Because I have an idea of the America that I want to live in, and this is not it. I’m not the only one who feels this way. And next week, everyone who wants to change our country – and everyone that doesn’t! – gets to make their voice heard.

The upcoming elections are going to determine the next few years of public policy, with enormous consequences. If you’re new to the political scene, you’re probably wondering what everyone is so angry about. Let’s review some of the biggest headlines over the last couple years: During Trump’s first month as president, the White House attempted to follow through on Trump’s campaign promise to ban Muslims from entering the country by restricting visas for the citizens of seven countries. Congress later passed and the president signed a 1.5 trillion dollar tax cut, of which more than 80% will go to the top 1%, while making healthcare more expensive for middle income families. The U.S. then officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, infuriating Palestine and much of the U.S. population. Most recently, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice despite sexual assault allegations from multiple women. As assistant Head of School Mr. Roberts says, “politics is a raging river right now.” As an American citizen, you can decide to either sink or swim.

If the stakes of these upcoming elections are not enough to convince you into political activism, your moral obligation might be. It is an American’s civic duty to provide their input for the government’s use. Civic duty. We hear that a lot, but what is it exactly? Civic duty is not just for mandatory jury duty or paying the infamous taxes. Civic duty also entails every value that Hopkins students are encouraged to maintain: integrity, doing a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, participating actively in community affairs, and taking leadership roles. It means participating in the democratic process by registering to vote
and then voting. This is where you have to be careful, though.

Be an election big or small, vote smart or not at all. It is an American’s civic duty to vote, yes, but an implied prerequisite of that action is to know who you’re voting for and why. Civic duty means that when you walk across the threshold of your district’s polling station, you are carrying a metaphorical briefcase of information under your arm regarding each candidate who’s running for office and what they plan to do. I’m not saying that a “smart” vote means it must be for one specific political party, because it doesn’t. There is no right or wrong political party, just categorized ideas that make our voting decisions easier to make.

What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t vote blindly for political leaders just for the sake of voting. Vote because you looked each of the candidates up online and know exacly what you’re getting into. Vote because you’ve defined your morals and the man or woman that you’re voting for exemplifies such morals in their political behavior and ambitions.

When you turn eighteen, you lose the ability to be convicted as a minor, but you gain so much more. You gain political influence, and that’s a big deal. Don’t stay out of politics. Stay educated and stay
active. If you’re an American, it’s not just your duty. It’s a privilege.
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The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
     
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