When I was in the fifth grade, I was in ILP- the Independent Learning Program. It was my favorite thing about going to school. That November, as it came time for the Presidential election of 2008, it became our job to help run a mock vote for the school. A week before the national election, each 4th, 5th, and 6th grade class took turns coming in to our room to cast their ballots. McCain or Obama- who would win? In the end, when my principal came over the intercom to announce that Barack Obama had won, little did we know that the same would happen in the general election!
On May 21st of this year, I turned 18, making me officially old enough to participate in United States elections. So this past Wednesday, I cast my vote.
And let me tell you- it felt magical.
At a time in our country as this, amidst the jokes and screams and complaints, many having looked on the upcoming November 8th election with disdain. People have said, "I'm not voting. We're only picking between the lesser of two evils."
But here's my thoughts on the matter: Suck it up.
While that may seem abrasive or crude, I'm not sorry. It blows my mind how people can refuse such an opportunity, marking it up to "not being able to make a difference anyway." For those of you who have not heard of the perils of my Student Council career, I encourage you. https://www.theodysseyonline.com/running-losing-student-council-4-times As little as 7 votes kept me from my position once. As little as 1 for a peer of mine. I assure you, every choice- every single decision- counts. Although some will blame the electoral college or whine that America "just isn't a Democracy," I laugh. So you would rather not vote, not have your vote represent your voice to other representatives, and then ask upset later if your candidate doesn't win? Okay. Because that makes sense?
I don't know about everyone else, but I know that I myself am quite the independent person. My mother likes to ask me why I even ask her opinions sometimes if I'm just going to do what I want to no matter what. To me, voting is the same. I do not want anyone making my decisions for me. If it affects me, I should get a say. Voting does just that. A few weeks ago, some of my favorite Young Adult authors began creating a series of videos about their "first time." Meant to sound as an innuendo, the video campaign quickly took to the rise with people everywhere commenting their own stories of the first time they voted. I loved it, It was incredible to me how someone could use their position as not only a public figure, but also as an American citizen to inspire others to take matters into their own hands. As Margaret Stohl, NY Times Bestselling Author said, "You have to think about who's still going to care about you when all of this is over. You can't just- let it happen. You have to prepare. You have to get ready...Register to vote."
In my lifetime alone, I have never seen more media explosions, more bullheaded accusations, or more unrest than in the past months leading up to this Tuesday's election. Everyone is begging, begging, always begging for a change. And so to quote Ghandi- be the change you wish to see. Cast your vote. It's not over 'til it's over.