Although public policy affects almost every aspect of our lives, only half of the American population consistently votes in general elections, with only about a third of this population voting during midterm elections.
For a country that prides itself on upholding democratic ideals, we kind of suck at being a democracy.
Our declining voter turnout threatens the legitimacy of our democracy and increases the likelihood that we are representing the minority instead of the majority.
Ironically, those that exert the least influence in public affairs are the very people who are in desperate need of representation in our government.
The majority of non-voters typically belong to a racial minority, are low on the socioeconomic scale, are young adults or all of the above.
They are dissatisfied with the state of our government because they believe money rules politics and candidates will never follow through on their promises.
While this is largely true, many don’t realize that we can only change the status quo by engaging in the political process and taking matters into our own hands.
By abstaining, all we are doing is perpetuating an environment of complacency in our government.
Our Congress has an approval rating that sometimes hits single digits, yet the incumbency rate for our Congress members is 90 percent. It doesn’t make any logical sense that we keep re–electing our representatives when we are so blatantly dissatisfied with our government.
If we want our representatives to stop catering to special interest groups, and start listening to the people we must stop allowing the top 1% decide who is going to represent us.
The most prominent social and economic issues of today pertain to those that abstain from voting. With the worst income inequality in the developed world, America is not going to change anytime soon unless the people take action.
There is no incentive for politicians to listen to the concerns of those that do not vote. If we want to see a better America, we should all be involved in public affairs.
Political change is a prerequisite for any social or economic change we wish to achieve.
I urge everyone no matter how old to start getting involved in the political process because I believe that is never too early to get involved in the political process. You don’t have to be 18 years old to be an educated and engaged citizen.
As only a 16 year old, last summer, I started interning for the “Kiley for Assembly” campaign. Working in a real political setting gave me the opportunity to learn more about the political process and instilled in me a passion to promote civic engagement in my community.
Being involved in the political process does not mean that you have to vote or volunteer for a campaign. Reading the news and expanding your knowledge about public affairs is another way to stay engaged in the political process.
I think being a misinformed voter is worse than not voting at all. A recent poll from alternate.com found that only 20% of the American population knew that there are 100 senators.
In the information age, we have knowledge at the tip of our fingers and there is absolutely no excuse for ignorance.
I think that simply being aware about the issues that affect us goes a long way. Knowledge empowers us to change the status quo and come closer to finding a solution to the problems that have plagued our nation for too long.
We must all take it upon ourselves to become more educated about the issues that affect us.
Our democracy allows the people to be at the forefront of change. If we simply took advantage of our governmental system, who knows what we could be capable of.
Currently, in many countries around the world, people are still fighting for the right to have a say in their government. In America, unfortunately, we have started to take this right for granted.
I think that George Bernard Shaw put it best when he said, “democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”
I can’t help but think that we all deserve better.