When he was seven years old, my father decided that he would never vote. He made this decision after learning about the electoral college in his second-grade social studies class. His takeaway: votes didn’t matter. Nobody actually had a say in who was elected president. To this day, my 51-year-old father has never registered to vote.
A few months ago, he was talking to his longtime friend about the upcoming presidential election, and explaining his choice to never vote. This friend, whose father was a World War II vet, told him one simple reason why he should change his mind: “Soldiers die for your right to vote.”
Suddenly struck, my father said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
What an election to be voting for the first time. The unveiling of Donald Trump’s viral recording of “lewd comments” has been the most recent of his dirty laundry aired, while Clinton seems to be dodging her Bill scandal, email scandal, pneumonia scandal, and everything else in between. With the media hyping up every little past and present downfall in our candidates’ lives, the actual American issues of democracy, security, and protection have fallen by the wayside.
Though we’d like to think that our president will also be our friend, hero, and role model, he or she is of course, human.
American citizens have to remember that they will be voting for a Commander in Chief: not a CEO; not Best Actor in a Comedy; and not Miss (or Mister) America. A Commander in Chief’s job is not only to be the face of America, but to be able to uphold a strong front that supports our Constitutional rights. Though we’d like to think that our president will also be our friend, hero, and role model, he or she is of course, human. How many actors, writers, artists, and athletes do we know who are also domestic abusers, drug addicts, and criminals? Everyone is flawed, and it doesn’t stop us from going to the movies, so why should it stop us from voting?
Both candidates have had their fair share of shameful pasts, but that shouldn’t discourage anyone from taking action next month. The right to vote is a privilege that many of us fail to exercise. Voter turnout for last year’s election in 2012 was only 54.87% of the voting age population. While there is a lot of criticism of the electoral college, states can decide how they choose their own electors and it is designed to follow from state influence in Congress. Even so, a 2013 GALLUP poll said that 63% of adults would choose to do away with it and rely on popular vote instead.
Will there be a discrepancy in who wins the electoral vote and who wins the popular vote in this election? The only way to find out is to vote. And for the first time, my father, like so many others, will be a part of history.