A Vote Gets You More Than Just a Sticker

To those who see no difference in presidential candidates, consider that there is no dispute that an Al Gore presidency would have been far different from the one led by George W. Bush. We would have likely made significant steps in reducing carbon emissions and kept Clinton era tax rates on the rich. Had a few thousand votes went the other way in Florida, our nation would be very different. The very purpose of voting is to create difference and change in public policy. In fact, this is why autocratic regimes like China’s or Syria’s do all in their power to prevent the masses from exercising this freedom.

In the current contest between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, we are presented with starkly different visions. Obama supports a strong safety net to support the worst-off, while Romney believes this same safety net breeds dependency. In Obama’s vision, programs like Medicaid that help the elderly, disabled and poor are strengthened, while in Romney’s, Medicaid will be cut. Maybe if one is a young member of the upper middle class, these choices may seem abstract. However, to the millions who need assistance, the choice is as clear as daylight.

Admittedly, one’s vote for the presidential candidate will matter less in partisan states like California or Texas. Nonetheless, in California, we are presented with important ballot measures and local candidates where, once again, every vote matters. The race for the 52nd Congressional District that covers most of La Jolla, for example, is one of the most closely disputed contests in the nation. Every vote will matter because the margin of victory will be so small.

For the youth, voting is even more important. Most of us in our 20s have another 60 years to go. We can shape how these 60 years turn out through our policy choices. Yet, election after election, it is the old who turn out the most despite them having fewer years to worry about. Voting is an investment for our future and like any investment, it is a poor decision to disregard it.

Hundreds of thousands have died for this right to vote in nations across the world and even more have protested for this right. To believe that voting isn’t meaningful is an insult to those who have fought hard for democracy. Exercising your right to vote is determining your future. Stop making excuses and perform your civic duty.