Everywhere I turn on social media, I am reminded to register to vote. And every time I see the reminder I worry: am I going to be able to vote? Then I remember, yes, you only have to register one time. You registered when you were 18. You voted recently. You’re good to go!
Last year, I remember driving through town with my husband and commenting that I wished I could help people, regardless of political party, register to vote. Many are unable to do so because of lack of transportation, work schedule, or other things that get in the way–especially when you’re not part of the middle or upper class. These issues don’t even touch the fact that many feel it’s a waste of their time to vote because they believe it won’t do anything.
Can you blame them? How challenging does it feel to try and connect with your representative for a particular office if you want to give your input on a policy or upcoming vote? Doesn’t it feel like all those voicemails you leave are going to a ringing phone in an empty office never to be checked?
Look at the last presidential election. Look at who won. Look at the reasons people gave for voting for him.
A large population in the United States feels underrepresented, ignored, and that their urban counterparts are the only people about whom elected officials care. Honestly? They have a point. I’ve spent a lot of time in rural Virginia as well as large cities. What matters in each of these places differs drastically. We need elected representation that understands that.
I’ve only heard one politician address the diversity of his constituents, and it was while discussing the gun control debate. You may have guessed it—Bernie Sanders. He acknowledged that he represents people who use their guns to hunt and provide for their families, as well as people who live in cities and feel more disinclined to carry a weapon. In my opinion, that shows an individual who is connected to and understands that many issues are not as cut and dry as we’d prefer, and also that “we the people,” when we vote, should do our best to consider not just how someone will affect us, but also our fellow citizens and their needs, even if they are different than our own.
Therefore, as we approach midterms in just a few weeks, please take time to genuinely research the candidates. Consider what difference they can actually make versus where they fall on issues that are likely unchanging (I’m talking about “one-issue” voting). Look into people whose names you don’t recognize, because our elected offices are filled with career politicians who are far too comfortable and in too many corporate pockets. Change will only occur when passionate people with fresh eyes and ideas enter the stage—or those who have been sidelined because they choose to run third-party. And please, consider third party candidates! It’s not a throwaway vote. It’s you saying, “I’m tired of the red and blue; let’s have something new!” (Did not intentionally rhyme that.)
Be an empowered voter. Don’t allow the system to dictate your freedom…because that’s not freedom.