Whether you are liberal, conservative or somewhere in between, this election is one for the ages. But in spite of the distracting hoopla of the Biden/Trump face-off, voting this year is more important than ever.
Since Joe Biden and President Donald Trump kicked off their campaigns, every eligible voter has been left to make sense of a complicated mess of scandals and surprising turns of events that seem to arise on a daily basis. For many, the unprecedented level of chaos (that has become synonymous with the 2020 election) has fueled the desire to restore some level of national unity. For many others, it has led to further disenchantment with politics.
There are a growing number of American citizens who are dissatisfied with both Trump and Biden. In fact, according to data from the Economist/YouGov, one in eight Americans (13%) would not choose either candidate. The election follows the trend of the 2016 race, in that both candidates are more disliked than they are liked.
But let’s make one thing clear: not voting is simply not an option.
While the person behind the presidency is significant, your vote is not just for an individual, but also a series of policy goals and actions. Although personality politics has taken center stage in recent years, we would do well to remember that urgent American concerns such as the handling of coronavirus and the environment have come to a head this year, and require immediate action from elected representatives.
Who you vote for will significantly impact how these issues are dealt with, and if you care about any of them, voting is an easy way to use your voice.
If you don’t vote, others still will, and since most of the urgent issues on the line directly affect American lives, refusal to vote puts your well-being (and that of your friends and family) at increased risk.
This is also true of policy issues like taxes, social security and education, of which Trump and Biden are diametrically opposed. Refusing to vote is to put these issues in the hands of fate, which is a dangerous gamble to take, especially in a year that has seen nationwide devastation in more ways than one.
We must also remember that voting is a constitutional privilege that many cannot afford to give up. Policy issues like police reform and women’s reproductive rights may not affect you or your family directly, but they have a direct impact on the society you live in.
As American citizens, we can, and should, care about how other members of society are treated, and voting in this election is a way to express your belief in fairness, equality and decency.
According to a non-partisan survey conducted by the Pew Research Center (in July of this year), 8 in 10 Americans are dissatisfied with the current state of the U.S. Rather than using this dissatisfaction as a reason to stay home this voting season, use it as a motivator to inspire change.
As human rights activist Loung Ung said, “Voting is not only our right — it is our power."