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Tomorrow the United States will hold its 57th presidential election. And amidst all the arguing pollsters and pundits, the partisanship and polarization, there is a message that Republicans and Democrats alike can agree on… get out and vote.
In the US, a nation founded on the basic principles of representative democracy, voter turnout rate in recent elections has hovered just below 60%. That means that, even if the slight upward trend in participation continues, there will still be over 90 MILLION eligible opinions that won’t be heard. Put another way, if they all decided on a collective whim to write-in Mickey Mouse, the Disney caricature would likely receive more popular votes than either of our two-party system candidates.
To give some perspective, while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia I was able to see people who valued voting as a privilege. In one of the poorest nations in the Western hemisphere (70% of the population lives below the poverty line) with minimal supporting infrastructure, voter turnout exceeded 90%. I personally witnessed and spoke to those who streamed out of their mountain villages, some walking for days, to cast their vote. In the end their voices were heard, and a historically oppressed and impoverished people saw the popular election of the first indigenous president in the country’s history.
Over the past year I’ve spoken to a lot of people in this country. A trip across the United States has taken me through red states, blue states, and many of those in between. But you don’t need to drive thousands of miles to hear different opinions on how our country has, is and should be run. And that is perhaps the one thing I’ve found that every one has in common: an opinion.
So spend a little time reading- know the candidates’ stances, and make up your own mind. Don’t be fooled by media sound bites, hyperbole and political rhetoric. Be informed and be a part of the democratic process that our nation was built upon. As the political professor once said, “every election is determined by the people who show up.”
So show up, be counted, and VOTE.