EDITOR’S NOTE: The viewpoints in this article do not represent the opinions of The Writer’s Bloc.
My Tuesdays are quiet.
I go to classes and practice, knocking out homework and group meetings at night. This seems to be pretty standard; school, work and extracurriculars take up most of the typical undergrad’s time on weekdays.
So why should Tuesday, Nov. 4 – Election Day – be any different?
To answer the question, we need to pause for a second and think about what it is that makes our everyday Tuesdays possible.
Tuesdays are relatively predictable; there’s no government violence or widespread social disarray to distract from your studies or fun. You have access to clean water, sanitation, medicine and food – and if you don’t, you should make good on our government’s promise to provide those things for you. Your rights and freedoms are protected by the law, so that you can generally do whatever you want, whenever you want – on a Tuesday, or on any other day.
This is not typical.
As college-educated adults, we know that countries across the globe are in various stages of revolution, while other nations operate as shadowed or blatant autocracies. We know the people there don’t get to pick what they do on an average Tuesday – that they’re forced to work certain jobs, behave certain ways, dress in certain clothes and even practice certain religions – because their government doesn’t allow the people living under it to make the rules.
We know that we’re privileged to live in the U.S., where we have the opportunity to shape our government by voting for our representation and legislation. And yet, we still refuse to play by the rules.
Tuesday, Nov. 4 is the midterm general election, and the stakes are high.
The entire House of Representatives is up for grabs, along with one third of the Senate, 38 governorships, 46 state legislatures and a number of state and local positions. But statistically, only half of you are going to vote on Tuesday, and that’s by the most generous measures.
In the 2012 presidential election (which nearly always has a better turnout than midterms), 50 percent of 18- to- 29-year-olds in Maryland voted. If that sounds bad, consider that the national average is only 45 percent, and that when you lower the age cutoff to 24, voter turnout drops to a staggering 38 percent.
If you fall under the 64 percent of people our age who aren’t voting, I have one thing to say: shame on you.
Shame on you for taking advantage of the freedoms our democracy offers without holding up your end of the bargain.
You don’t have to do much – register to vote on campus, if you’re really too lazy to mail in an absentee ballot – to meet the only obligation you incur by living under and benefiting from the United States government.
If you don’t, I kindly ask that you keep any and all opinions you have about abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, taxation, etc. to yourself.
You have a perfectly accessible avenue for expressing your wishes about how our country ought to be run. If your opinion is outvoted, then okay – feel free to bitch and moan all you want; at least you tried to do something about it. But if you fail to cast your vote, you should lose the right to legitimately complain about anything our government does.
You had a chance to do something about anything you didn’t like, and you didn’t speak up.
Ironically, I have no way of mandating silence from non-voters, since the very same Constitution that begs your participation in our government protects your freedom of speech, regardless of whether you’ve met the responsibilities of a U.S. citizen. I also have no way of knowing if you voted.
For now, it’s safe to assume that at least half of you have not – so while I’ll keep my judgments to myself, I’ll continue to make them until our generation posts some more serious numbers at the polls.