Politics has never been my thing. In the past I would tell myself that my vote didn’t count for anything, that one vote wouldn’t really make a difference. I didn’t think that choosing not to vote made me any less American, any less patriotic. I told myself that I could love this country without casting my choice for president.
When President Obama was sworn into office in 2009, I found myself wishing that I could’ve voted then. It was a historic election, one that excited the nation, and I wanted to be part of it. But I wasn’t eligible to vote then, and I felt as though I had missed out on a great opportunity.
This year, we have another historic election, for entirely different reasons. This year, I didn’t need to think twice about whether or not I would be voting. I knew, as most of us did, that this was a pivotal moment in American history. I knew that this year, it was no longer just about politics. There was much more at stake than a Democratic or Republican victory, and I knew that I had a responsibility—not as an American citizen, but as a human being—to go to the ballot and exercise my democratic right to vote.
Even for those of us who don’t like to get involved in the messy political discussions that dominate dinner conversations at this time of the year—even we recognize that we are playing an active role in the writing of American history. One day ten, twenty years from now, our children will read about this election in their history books, and they’ll ask us what we did. Who we voted for. If we made a difference. Even though we know it’s not as easy as separating one candidate from the other, that politics is a whole lot of gray and not so much black and white—we still need to make a choice. Whatever that choice may be, it’s crucial that we each get ourselves to the ballot.
In this election, we’re voting for more than president of the United States of America. We are voting for freedom, for the very foundations of liberty that this great nation is built upon. We should not have to be in this position, but we are. Our freedoms are being threatened by someone who could be our next commander-in-chief, our lives threatened by someone who calls himself a leader. We are a democratic republic and yet this is our reality in 2016.
We have a candidate who is running for the highest office in the land, someone who could very well lead the free world, and he wants to take away our right to exercise basic rights. Our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion, our freedom to enter this country as immigrants—all these things could be taken away from us. Is it not our duty, then, our burden, to make sure that we do something to prevent that from happening? Our lives will be affected. Our families. Our children. Who else will defend them if we don’t? Who else will fight a fight that is ours to see through?
Go out and vote. Vote Democrat. Vote Green Party. Write in your own suggestion and vote for your mother. But vote.
It’s no longer just a right. It’s an obligation.