We All Have the Opportunity to Join Together and Vote and Let our Voices be Heard
“Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country, and this world,” New York Times best selling author Sharon Salzberg once said.
Many of us at Fresno Pacific University are facing this election year as either new voters or potential ones. If you are at all hesitant about voting, I am here to tell you that your vote matters. This is about why you, dear reader, matter in any election.
Our country’s democratic system is founded on our freedom to vote. We have come a long way in providing the right to vote to all citizens of the United States. It was a battle fought with our cultural and gendered ancestors’ blood, sweat and tears. Only now can we begin to appreciate the power of every vote cast at an election.
But does the vote of a single person really matter? Certainly. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson was elected President of the United States by one vote in the House of Representatives after a tie in the Electoral College. In 1868, President Andrew Jackson was impeached but not convicted because the Senate was one vote shy of the necessary two-thirds required. More recently, in the Presidential Election of 2000, President George W. Bush won the race by a narrow margin of 537 votes in Florida. Considering almost six million people voted in Florida during that election year, every vote evidently mattered. I would hope that history alone would compel you to vote; if not, then I cannot emphasize enough that there is even more to our privilege and right to vote.
As college students, many of us are on the precipice of adult life. Most of us plan on beginning our lives and starting careers as soon as we can afterwards. This means that if we have not already, we will soon start paying our own taxes. We will also start providing our own healthcare coverage and finding our own housing, if we have not done so already. These are difficult decisions, and those of us who have already been making them know the level of responsibility that comes with each choice or necessity. We have new questions to ask, or at least should be asking: What are my state or federal tax dollars being used for and why? Are my health insurance benefits affected by state or federal government spending policy? How is the purchase of a home (taxes), property taxes, or the cost of rent affected by state and/or governmental policy? Of course, there are many more questions to ask once we reach adulthood; I have merely touched on a few post-graduation and career-focused concerns.
Educating yourself about the policies and government officials that will influence (and essentially control) your financial spending will set a solid framework for your socio-economic world. Regardless of which party you affiliate with or which policies, laws, amendments, etc. you agree or disagree with, being thoroughly informed about them will equip you with more knowledge to cast your vote with distinct purpose. This is not to say we cannot involve our own personal feelings during election season. Often, the person running for office may go against a belief or issue or a policy or proposition that in some way emotionally affects you. In fact, as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Treasury Monica Crowley once said, “Voting is as much an emotional act as it is an intellectual one.”
Whether this is the first election you have the opportunity to vote in or if you have had it in previous elections, I encourage you to look and see how important your own individual voice and vote matters. Even if you are indifferent about the election, your voice is just as important: you might very well offer an alternative to our current dichotomous political climate. I strongly urge you to fill out your ballot and mail it or drop it in one of the designated locations, such as this one:
I will leave us all with a quote from the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg: “By voting, we add our voice to the chorus that forms opinions and the basis for actions.”
Author: Janelle Fontaine | Opinions Editor