The Future of America Lies on Your Shoulders

Niriti Pahadi, Staff Writer

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Our nation was founded on the principles of representative democracy, a republic where the public policies are to be shaped by public opinions; by ordinary citizens like you and me who hold no real influence or power in the societal hierarchy. However, how can the laws being passed by the Congress, the Supreme Court, the President reflect the opinion of “the people,” if “the people” don’t care enough to vote.

The people who have the competence to change our lives and the whole scope of our country falls on our hands, not the governor’s, not the congress’s, not the president’s, but ours.
Or so it is said.

According to Liz Kennedy, senior director of Democracy at the Center for American Progress, in the 2016 presidential election, at least 93 million eligible voters did not vote, and the number of failed voter participation was even higher in the 2014 midterms, with the striking absence of 143 million eligible voters. This number represents the 40% of the American population that missed the chance to impact the future of our nation.

Research conducted by The PEW Research Center after the 2016 elections finds that most of the voters who do cast their ballots are the elderly, or the wealthy. If the leaders in our society are only elected by a few specific sectors of society, then what happens to the other sectors who do not vote? What happens to the opinions of the millennials and the middle class? These groups’ voices are dead even before they reach the surface, especially the voices of the youth, the voters aged 18-29.

The American population of ages 18-29 occupies 30% of our society, nearly one-third of our population, and yet their voices aren’t heard in the Capitol. The main reason for this is that most of them do not register to vote. According to The Pew Research Center, four in ten 18-29 year olds are not registered to vote, and 42% of the regular voters are people aged 50 and older, while 22% of them are ages 18-29. The adolescents make up one-fifth of the voting population, and the elderly make up half of the voters, which is why they have the power to control election outcomes.

Politicians determine what policies to pursue based on the electorate. They pursue the policies that resonate with the majority of the population who are registered so that they have a greater shot at victory. When they see that the majority of the registered are the elderly, they are more likely to focus on the policies that are supported by the elderly.

Thus, we as young people have simply removed ourselves from the radar of the politicians.
If the politicians who have the real influence up in Washington continuously put the needs of the elderly before ours to ensure their victory in the election, the policies that they pass will continue to only benefit the older demographic. Our needs as high school graduates such as student loans, tax reliefs, advanced education, and cheaper college education will continuously be placed in the back burner.
We adolescents can march and protest all we want, but in the end, the officials in Washington are the ones that are going to pass the laws. So we must elect officials that represent our beliefs, and to elect these officials, we need them to see that we do have the power to swing the results of the elections, which all begins with registering to vote.

Dear Americans, the right to vote, which you are constantly encouraged to exercise, is a hard won privilege that is denied to many. Take advantage of it. As soon as you turn 18, you have the opportunity to affect the scope of America and the ideals of our American citizens. You can make America a nation you are proud to call yours, or a nation that is divided into red and blue.

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