Even though I’ve only been eligible to vote for the past four years, I’ve been thinking about participating in democracy since I was a child. I was always the most enthusiastic child when it came time for classroom mock elections. I begged my parents for their “I Voted” stickers, and helped my great-grandmother mail in her ballot. I recognized the importance of voting long before I was 18. My family raised me to acknowledge that voting is a privilege. Whether the outcome is what we want it to be or not, we’re privileged in being able to have a say in how our communities, states and country are run.
Midterm elections are right around the corner, and the push to get young people to the polls gets amplified in a different way everyday. Celebrities are tweeting, famous athletes are instagramming, and the commercials come fast and furious on the television.. As repetitive as it may be, I hope my peers are able to cut through the noise long enough to understand why our vote, more so than any other generation’s, matters.
If you’re unsure about just how much your vote matters, consider that we, the late-millenial to post-millenial generation, are said to be the largest block of potential voters for the upcoming midterm election. Meaning that we are the first voting block with the potential to inch out the vote of the Baby Boomer generation. Until now, elections have gone whichever way the Baby Boomer generation has voted. This is our opportunity to change that. But again, none of that matters if we don’t make it to the polls. If you need further convincing, consider that the average age of a U.S. Senator is 61 years old (born in 1957). Roe vs Wade was decided upon in 1973. Oceanographer Wallace Smith Broecker coined the term “global warming,” in 1975. Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, was elected in 1988—the average U.S. Senator was in their 30’s. In this context, it’s easy to see why their interests, opinions and politics differ from our own.
There are a number of issues that lack a sense of urgency and understanding for previous generations despite being at the forefront for us. Decisions on issues such as minimum wage, immigration, climate change, bodily autonomy, the cost of higher education and the debt that follows, should be ours to decide. It should be our vote which shapes the policies surrounding these issues as they will impact us—not them, directly in the years to come.
Our vote matters in this election and in each election that follows. It is a privilege that I hope you partake in. As young people, we often question what we can do to change, improve, and meaningfully impact the world around us. Casting a vote is perhaps the most important thing we can do in this moment.