As I walked out of my small high school in a rural southern town on my final day of classes, I was excited about all of the possibilities that awaited me when I reached college.
One was the prospect of being surrounded by politically like-minded individuals at the liberal arts school I would attend in the fall. I naively thought that because of this relocation, I would never have to bang my head against the wall after hearing a fellow studentâ€™s comments on politics ever again. I was entirely wrong. Although the political climate here is much less hostile than it is at home, it still seems that thereâ€™s a disconnect between whatâ€™s happening politically and the students who call themselves activists.
Many of them have never voted even though the majority of them are of legal voting age. Theyâ€™re perfectly content to protest outside Trump Tower on the weekends, but when it comes to mobilizing voters and going to the polls themselves, they fall painfully short. Additionally, there is too much focus placed on Trumpâ€™s personal issues. As awful as Trump can be, spending too much time gossiping about his relationship with a porn star and discussing his latest inflammatory tweet wonâ€™t do anything to prevent his political agenda from succeeding.
Millennials have to step up our game if we want anything to change. We are now the largest voting-eligible generation in the country! This power that we have is being undercut, however, by the fact that we have the lowest voter turnout rate of any age group. This is completely unacceptable. It is fair to feel disempowered when we are young and our elected officials seem so out of touch. It is fair to be frustrated. However, it is up to us to change that.
Millennials have the numbers now to turn the tide of elections. We have to stay informed, research candidates, and support the ones we believe in. Even when there are no candidates that perfectly align with our desires, that does not mean we have a free pass to sit out. We must – in these cases – vote preventatively to keep the people who seek to destroy our rights out of office. We must fight back against conservatives whose mission it is to tear us away from our contraceptives and our access to safe and legal abortions. We must fight back against candidates that have been accused of crimes such as sexual assault and sexual harassment. We must fight back against candidates who seek to take away power from women in any way.
Our days of being trapped in the kitchen voiceless and oppressed are over and we must keep it that way. Any time we choose to sit out an election is a time when we could have kept such candidates out of office with our votes. Let this serve as a call to action. Take your anger not only to the streets, but to the polls and to the offices of your representatives.